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In 1923, the Solo Marx Company was founded in Oakley, Ohio, a small suburb of Cincinnati. The plant was moved to Loveland, Ohio in 1942 where the very first totes rubber rain boots were manufactured. These rubber rain boots, called "totes" to emphasize how portable and easy-to-carry they were, eventually became the company's most popular product.

In 1961, Brad Phillips, a Chicago businessman, bought Solo Marx and changed the name to totes, Incorporated. In 1969 he obtained the first patent for a working folding umbrella. In 1970, totes introduced the very first folding umbrella in the United States and it quickly became a hit. In the 1970s, in addition to the folding rain umbrella, many products were introduced under the totes name, including totes rain scarves, rainwear, hats, expanding bags, and slipper socks. In the mid-1980's totes established offices in New York, Toronto, the United Kingdom and Asia. Today, totes is still one of the most recognized brand names for quality rainwear and weather protection accessories.