How a free canvas tote became a bigger status symbol than a $10,000 Hermès bag

Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, carried an Hermès Birkin bag worth roughly $10,000 on her arm in the ill-fated Instagram post that got her slammed for “flashing her wealth” — and then lecturing a critic about her “sacrifices.”

But status symbols don’t have to cost as much as a luxury purse. For the price of a $6 magazine subscription, you can get a bag that carries just as much weight as a social signifier. It’s the New Yorker magazine tote — a frequent sight on the streets of brownstone Brooklyn, fodder for countless tweets both snarky and gushy, and recently dubbed 2017’s “it” bag by a London fashion editor, the humble carryall is by far the venerable weekly’s most popular “free gift” of all time.

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