Quick: Think of the most questionable fashion choice of the 80s and early 90s.
If you thought ‘fanny pack’, you’re in the majority. The fanny pack has always been tantamount to the questionable fashion choices of the 80s including fingerless gloves, hair crimpers, and head-to-toe neon. Synonymous with dad bods, adventure parks, tourists, and retirees, the ultimate bags of convenience went from carry-all-du-jour to runway essential with a little help from some signature fashion houses.
As the hope and dreams of a new millennium dawned, ripstop fanny packs were unbuckled and tucked into a place of obscurity, only unearthed to be a Halloween-themed homage to a decade you survived (or were born after).
But, what goes around comes around. Or, maybe the fanny pack never really faded into obscurity. A quick look at its history reveals it never really faded away. Today, upper-echelon designers like Louis Vuitton, Prada and yes, so Gucci to decorate the waistlines of Kim Kardashian, A$AP Rocky, Queen Bey Beyonce, Kendall Jenner and many others to make fanny packs associated with the word comeback.
Fanny packs (also known as slings, bumbags, hip packs, bet bags, and belly bags) go back even further than the 80s. The first fanny pack was discovered around the waist of a mummified iceman who lived between 3400 and 3100 B.C. Made of leather, it was durable, could withstand intense temperatures, and kept prehistoric essentials close-by and could withstand intensive temperatures. Not much had changed by the 80s, except the material. The thin and colorful nylon fanny pack was also pretty durable, kept modern-day essentials close-by (keys, wallet, etc.) and could withstand temperatures from the moderate California coastline to the humid Miami Beach Boardwalk.
We can thank Karl Lagerfeld for making leather the main material for fanny packs (ahem, belt bags) again. In 1994, he designed belt bags for Chanel and transformed them into couture, high-dollar fashion accessories. Not long after, skateboarders (the counter-culture darlings of the fashion industry) helped fanny packs re-emerge with a little bit of dignity and a lot of punk. This emergence was solely out of necessity. Much like the iceman who needed easy access to his essentials, skateboarders counted on fanny packs to go wherever their wheels took them. And, they started wearing them as crossbody bags.
Which leads us to today.
Worn across the waist, resting on the hip, dangling from the shoulder, or like a mid-chest messenger, fanny packs are anything but old-fashioned. Polarizing? Yes—and they always will be. But, no good thing is accepted by all, and no other bag has survived through the centuries. And for that, we give credit where credit is due.