Tote bags have become a staple in fashion and our daily lives. They also are an excellent tool for business branding. That’s why having a tote bag guide can be crucial for marketing!

Promotional bags generate 3,300 impressions throughout their lifetime. The large imprint area is a huge plus for giving your company logo the exposure it deserves.

Let’s take a look at the various types of customizable tote bags and find the best-personalized styles for your business.

Why is it called a tote bag?

customized cotton tote bag with your design

The name tote bag comes from its original purpose: “To tote.” According to Racked, the first tote bag was advertised in 1944 as a helpful product to carry ice. It made a re-emergence in the ’60s as the slender multipurpose bag we know today.

It was after this redesign that tote bags became and remained extremely popular. Today, tote bags are used for their style as well as their functionality.

What is a gusset in a tote bag?

Gussets are the extra fabric pieces sewn into the tote bag to add more room, enhance strength and/or to give a specific shape. Gussets are added to the bottom, sides or both of many tote bag styles.

A good example of a gusset is found in our customizable grocery tote bag, which is constructed with extra fabric to allow the bottom to expand for additional storage.

Different types of tote bags

tote bag material differences

You’ll find many variations in styles and materials for personalized totes. Take a look at these bestselling tote bags at Totally Promotional. Find a tote bag to promote your brand and make your clients happy. We also offer unique eco-friendly and sustainable tote bags.

Many of our tote styles have low minimum quantities of 12. You can find totes in dozens of colors and several different sizes to meet your needs. Take advantage of free delivery and free setup on select styles of custom totes!

Custom cotton tote bags

custom tote bag with blue sunglasses

Cotton tote bags have a classic look that you likely envision when you think about totes. Cotton has been around since the fifth millennium B.C. but wasn’t highly produced until the invention of the cotton gin. Cotton is known for its softness and durability. Its absorbency allows it to dry easily and hold its color.

Many cotton tote bags are made of canvas. This is not a material but rather a type of fabric weaving that makes the material more sturdy.

Bestseller: Getaway Cotton Tote Bag

Jute tote bags

custom jute tote bag with stripes

Jute tote bags are made of long and shiny fibers that are spun into tough threads. Another name for this material is burlap. The rough qualities of jute make it perfect for totes. It is sturdy, scratch-resistant and stain-resistant.

Jute tote bags are a great choice for eco-friendly brands because they are 100 percent biodegradable. Jute material is harvested from two plant varieties called Corchorus olitorius and Corchorus capsularis. The difference between the plants is that one produces the white variety of jute and the other the Tossa or brown variety.

These bags are great for events that call for rustic themes. In recent years, they’ve become the most popular tote bags for weddings.

Bestseller: Striped Jute Tote Bag

Non-woven tote bags

woman holding custom clear plastic tote bag

Non-woven material is fabric-like and is created from plastic fibers bonded by heat, adhesive or mechanical means. Mechanical bonding can consist of stitching or webbing materials together. These totes are the best choice for businesses on a budget due to their affordability.

Non-woven tote bags are made of many different materials such as PVC, polypropylene and polyethylene. PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a type of thermoplastic. Thermoplastics can be reheated repeatedly to be reshaped, which is what makes PVC extremely moldable.

The most-common PVC totes are clear ones that are required by security at sporting and music events.

Bestseller: Clear Drawstring Bag

Polypropylene tote bags

customized tote bag with colorful print sitting on a desk

Polypropylene is made of thermoplastic polymer threads woven together or bonded by heat. Tote bags made of polypropylene are highly resistant to water, mildew, bacteria and stains. These bags will last for years and many can be recycled when no longer needed.

One of our best polypropylene tote bags is the Laminated Shopper Tote. Laminated totes are handy because they can be easily wiped clean.

Bestseller: Polypropylene Budget Shopper Tote Bags

Polyester tote bags

custom orange polyester tote bag

Polyester tote bags are known for extra sturdiness to carry heavy loads. Blending polyester with natural fibers gives tote bags the ideal properties that polymers possess: water-resistance and anti-wrinkling. Polyester is extremely easy to care for because it can be spot cleaned and air-dried. It is also resistant to abrasions that ruin other fabrics.

One type of polyester is polyethylene terephthalate. Polyethylene was first discovered in the ’30s and was used as a radar cable insulator during World War I. The simple form of polyethylene is often seen in a variety of household items and the toughest form is used for bulletproof vests! Polyethylene tote bags are typically the most affordable type and are very durable.

Bestseller: Ocean Fun Tote Bag

Polycanvas tote bags

customized black and khaki tote bag

Polycanvas is a polyester fabric made to mimic the feel of natural canvas. It is created with a plain weave and thicker, heavier threads. These two factors give the fabric its iconic crosshatch texture and heavy-duty construction. Like other polymer materials, it is only dyeable during the production process and holds fast to its color. It is also resistant to mildew and bacteria.

Bestseller: Crest Line Canvas Tote Bag

Popular uses for custom tote bags

custom tote bags for every occasion

Trade shows

Trade show tote bags are an excellent choice for businesses to hand out at all types of promotional events. Attendees are quick to grab customized tote bags to carry the giveaways and flyers they pick up.

Custom trade show bags provide free advertising for your company logo.

Grocery stores

Custom reusable bags come in different materials to suit your style. They are spacious and durable, which makes them perfect to bring on any shopping trip. Many stores today offer their own branded totes for sale to customers.

Consider ordering a tote like the Insulated Shopper Tote Bag if you carry groceries a longer distance. The insulated bag will keep your perishable and frozen items safe while you travel.

Boutiques and gift shops

Promotional retail bags with your logo give your boutique, clothing store or gift shop an opportunity to keep your name in front of customers. Shopping bags made with durable materials such as polyester, plastic and polypropylene will be reused by customers for other tasks after their purchase.

One of our bestselling retail bags, the Die Cut Plastic Bag, has a minimum quantity of 150 and is made in the U.S.A. Much like other shopping bags at Totally Promotional, this bag allows plenty of room to show off your name, logo or contact information.


Wedding tote bags will help guests remember your special day for years to come. You can leave these in hotel rooms with goodies for out-of-towners or hand them out at your reception.

These custom tote bags make great gifts for your bridesmaids, close family members, wedding helpers and other guests.

Our most popular styles are Polypropylene Economy Totes, Polypropylene Budget Totes and Striped Cotton Canvas Totes.

Choose custom tote bags for your event

Whatever you use them for, your personalized cotton tote bags are sure to impress everyone who gets one. Start desiging custom tote bags today!

warm up your team with a customized sweatshirt

Jodi Laux is a copywriter with Totally Promotional. Her passion for writing was sparked by spending much of her childhood with her nose stuck in a book. Jodi formed her creative voice at Wright State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Now she writes content to help people find the answers and products they need.

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