The Revival of the Fanny Pack and Why It Remains So Popular

Read about the history and reemergence of the fanny pack in this article.

Introduction 

Dating back to the 1950s, fanny packs started as a casual accessory key to the everyday traveler or avid skier. Today, we can see iterations of the fanny pack in luxury brands like Gucci or athleisure brands like Lululemon. What was once a nifty tool for tourists has developed throughout the years, and is now a must-have in the fashion world. Not only has the accessory been picked up by copious amounts of brands, the fanny pack’s way of wearing has also shifted over time. The classic tourist look pictures the individual wearing the fanny around their waist, as if it were in replace of a belt. Nowadays, we see crossbody fanny packs that are worn diagonally across the chest. The dynamism of the fanny pack across decades causes the accessory to stand out amongst the handbag family.

Fanny Pack History– Where Popularity Arose

The fanny pack can be first seen as early as 3350-3105 BC, where a mummified man in ice was discovered alongside a fanny pack for his tools. The term “fanny pack” stems from the American terminology for “backside” when fanny packs were initially worn behind. In British terminology, the fanny pack was referred to as a “bum bag” and fanny was the Americanized name. Given that this item began as an accessory for tourists, wearing the fanny pack on the backside would make them susceptible to losing items or even pickpocketing. Turning the pack to the front side became the new look for the fanny pack and it stuck. 

For European skiers, the fanny pack became useful in the 50s as the bag functioned as a carrier to necessities on the slopes. Certain sources claim that Australian widower Melba Stone is credited for the fanny pack’s invention in 1962. The brand Voit can be credited for the first brand to have made the fanny pack or “day bag”. While the fanny pack’s introduction was spotted around the world, the accessory only became widely popular in the late 1900s. Tourists picked up the fanny as their own useful tool and the accessory became a staple piece for the 80s and 90s. 

The classic fanny pack reached peak wear in the 1990s in the United States– a look for rave goers who needed a handy space to store their personal items. It is crucial to acknowledge the transition of fanny packs from a commodity to a fashion statement. People were buying fanny packs for the purpose of storing personal items to make travel or day-to-day tasks less of a hassle. The fanny pack lessened the weight of bags to carry and was a smaller, more practical size than a backpack. Nowadays, fanny packs have been picked up by designer brands as a statement to add to an outfit. Fanny packs add to the outfit now, instead of taking from an outfit’s appeal (like they used to). 

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag

Fast-forward to the late 2010s, fanny packs have been picked up by larger brand names such as athleisure brand Lululemon. Renamed the “Everywhere Belt Bag”, Lululemon’s fanny pack has become all the craze– especially this past year where it was almost impossible to find one in-store or online. Color black and white were especially difficult to locate, as influencers on Instagram and TikTok began promoting the items as neutral accessories to dress up an everyday look. 

The Everywhere Belt Bag ranges in sizes Mini to XL, with colors as bright as Solar Orange or as neutral as Grey Sage. Compared to luxury brands, the Lululemon name boasts athleisure-wear. The description  on their Belt Bag reads, “Phone, keys, wallet. Keep them close in this versatile belt bag that helps you get out the door and on to your next adventure.” 

Each belt bag is made of polyester for the mesh, recycled nylon for the body and recycled polyester for the liner. Each bag is made of water repellent material, making the item even more enticing for those looking for an everyday protective bag. 

Gucci GG Embossed Belt Bag

Stemming from the casual, athletic look of Lululemon attire, the Gucci GG embossed belt bag is an example of the trickle-up effect in the fashion world. According to the trickle-up effect, everyday clothing items are adapted from the lower and working classes into fashion trends of the upper-class. What was once worn by tourists for convenience has become a fashionable accessory sold by luxury brands such as Gucci. 

The Gucci bag is sold in three varying  colors with three different sizes offered. Colors included in this leather-made accessory are brown, green and orange. The description of the bag reads on their website, “A recurring shape, the Gucci belt back is multifunctional and can be worn as a cross-body as well. Part of the House’s codes first presented during the ‘30s, the distinctive GG motif has been the inspiration for new explorations of expression for almost a century.”

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

The Ace acts as an in-between of the Lululemon fanny and Gucci belt bag. Made of neoprene and recycled Repreve lining®, the Dagne Dover bag maintains flexibility and vast storage space while maintaining a fashionable look. The bag can be dressed up or down, with its sleek exterior and simplistic design. 

The Ace fanny pack comes in a variety of six different colors–all neutral hues. The bag also rotates seasonal colors; the current seasonal color available for purchase is Dusk Violet. The description of the bag on their website reads, “Whether you’re an avid explorer or just like to keep things hands-free on the regs, The Ace Fanny Pack is your perfect companion. This water-resistant neoprene belt bag has an adjustable strap, so you can decide how high or low your wearing style wants to go.”

Usage of Fanny Packs

As stated earlier, fanny packs were originally used by tourists, skiers, and rave goers. Similar to back then, in today’s world we see the accessory as a more convenient replacement to the average handheld bag. What makes wearing the fanny pack different today is the style level. Generally speaking, fanny packs up until the recent decade were not seen as stylish– they were merely suitable for holding necessities. With big name brands making the fanny pack their own, the accessory has become a fashionable item adding to the fashion of the decade. We see people dressing up an outfit by adding a crossbody pack, whereas back in the 80s the fanny pack was a signal for mockery. 

We can see concert attendees dawning the likes of fanny packs, shoppers, or just individuals on a stroll. Whether it is worn across the body or as the classic waistband, the fanny pack remains relentless in the accessory family.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to brands like Lululemon and Gucci, the cycle of the fanny pack in popular accessories continues. In this article, we discussed the history of the emergence of the fanny pack, name brands that have maintained the fanny pack’s presence in fashion and the usages of fanny packs. Whether it’s strapped across the body or adorned on the waist, fanny packs are here to stay.

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