When a paper bag becomes a fashion statement.

Starbucks is constantly adding new products to its online store in Japan, so you never know what treasures you might find there. Our reporter Mai Tsubomi recently discovered a hidden gem in the form of the Kraft Paper Shopper, which looks just like the free paper bags given to customers, only with a sturdier construction, designed to be used again and again.

Made out of kraft paper, produced using the kraft process, where wood is chemically converted into wood pulp, these bags are priced at 2,200 yen (US$14.37) for the small version that she purchased.

▼ Lining the bag up side by side with a regular paper bag from the chain shows just how similar they are in size and appearance.

With the differences being quite minimal from a distance, some people might wonder why anyone would choose to pay for something that looks like a free bag, but Mai assures us that it’s worth the splurge.

For starters, it’s very well constructed — the material is thick and sturdy, and the handles are firmly sewn to the body of the bag with thread.

The folds and wrinkles on the surface of the tote, due to the malleable nature of the material, look a lot better than the creases you get in a paper bag, giving it a worn-in effect that’s still classy, like a pair of washed jeans.

Then there’s the roomy interior, which lets you carry extra items you might use on a daily basis, like a water bottle, an umbrella, a cosmetics pouch, towels and wet wipes.

The sturdy walls of the bag help keep everything neatly in place.

Mai carried the Kraft Paper Shopper around with her for an entire day, and though the load was quite heavy, there were no problems with its durability, and no fear of it breaking.

▼ The wide opening was convenient too, as she could swiftly take things out as needed.

After using it a few times, the overall shape of the tote stiffened up a bit, and the handle frayed a little due to the constant friction from her holding it. This was to be expected, though, and the only words of caution she has are to refrain from using it on very rainy days, because while it repels splashes of water, she doesn’t think it would hold up well to a day-long soak in the rain.

While she’s not sure how long the bag will last, Mai is very happy with her purchase, and after enquiring about the totes with Starbucks staff, she found they were sold out at stores, which is a testament to their popularity. So if you’d like to make a fashion statement with a different type of Starbucks paper bag, head on over to the online store, where you can also pick up some Mother’s Day mugs to fill your bag with!

Related: Starbucks Japan Online Store
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