[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]irst, there were the backpacks. Having spent most of our school-going years toting scholastic baggage around in those double-strapped canvas carriers, we thought we had permanently swopped them for more grown-up options (read: briefcases, messenger bags, other single-strapped carriers made from heavy leather). But now that brands from Balenciaga to Bottega Veneta have given the backpack a high-fashion makeover – the latter’s versions heavily feature the house’s signature criss-cross intrecciato weave, for example – it has risen in the popularity stakes among those who have long graduated.

Backpacks are not the only way in which designers are channelling their school spirit. Another popular student accoutrement, badges have long been a way for their wearers to jazz up those aforementioned bags, while conveying an allegiance to entities ranging from the latest pop band to left-wing political sensibilities. This season, those pinned plastic discs come of age.

At Dior Homme, creative director Kris Van Assche paid homage to Christian Dior’s well-documented love for flowers with badges housing actual pressed blooms. Elegant yet unexpected, the badges took the place of traditional lapel pins or boutonnieres, and were playful finishing touches to Van Assche’s self-described “techno-sartorial” take on formal tailoring. At Hermes and Yohji Yamamoto, badges in dark monotones served as graphic accents on easy tailoring – think of them as tastefully oversized (and easily removable) dots.

Make no mistake, such schoolday-inspired accessories are no child’s play. Since their launch this spring, leather stickers by English fashion designer Anya Hindmarch have raked in £12 million (S$26 million). Featuring whimsical motifs such as yellow smiley faces and road signs, the stickers adhere permanently to surfaces, and can be used to personalise items such as bags and mobile phones. After all, while we may no longer need a badge or sticker to define who we are, there’s no reason why having fun should be the sole domain of the school-going set.