They ARE iconic. How many iconic items can be had so inexpensively? Even more so on sale! How many items are preppy and edgy, depending on the person carrying it?
One hardly needs to enumerate uses for heavy duty tote bags. Here's one that I love that you may not have seen. Famous stylist Peri Wolfman (one of those people who has shelves with white bowls in graduated sizes) uses the medium size as a portable file tote. She gets one for each project. You can even get them monogrammed.
Here's the cover of one of Peri's books. This is not the book for someone who needs help with clutter or organizing. This is for the person whose home ALREADY looks like a Williams-Sonoma display.