The Revival of the Fanny Pack/Waistpack/Belt Bag/Bum Bag

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  1. From the Wall Street Journal, 2/10/11:
    With Fanny Packs on the Runway, Can Mom Jeans Be Far Behind?

    Designers Find Name 'So Cheesy, So Tacky, So Horrible,' but Ask $1,995 for a 'Belt Bag'

    Conceptualizing his first collection for Diane von Furstenberg, creative director Yvan Mispelaere drew inspiration from iconic women like dancer Isadora Duncan and the Roman goddess Diana the Huntress.
    The nylon fanny pack has been a joke for 20 years. But now it's making a comeback, with updated materials and names like 'Hands Free Bag' and 'Bum Bag.' WSJ's Rachel Dodes reports.

    To Mr. Mispelaere, they represented "motion, dancing and celebrating the sun." In a nod to these free spirits, he set out to revive an accessory that has been decidedly démodé for at least two decades: the fanny pack.
    His $325 DVF belted satchels hitting stores this month aren't actually called fanny packs, of course. Mr. Mispelaere refers to them as "hands-free bags"—a name, he says, that helps convey "a functional shape, but with a touch of glamour, a touch of luxury and a touch of seriousness."
    As designers firm up their final picks for the Thursday launch of New York Fashion Week, Mr. Mispelaere is considering putting the bags back on the runway at his Feb. 13 show.

    Fanny packs, small bags that fasten around the waist, are among the most reviled accessories in modern culture, carrying inevitable associations with "scary American tourists at the Louvre," says designer Isaac Mizrahi. He hasn't sent one down the runway since 1992. "You either love them and make them part of your life or you fight them until the end," he says.

    As it turns out, more sartorial types now are butting in on the look, even as they shun the "f" word. Korean-American handbag designer Sang A Im-Propp, who sells an alligator version for $1,995, calls hers a "belt bag." The term "fanny pack," she says, "is just eww, so cheesy, so tacky, so horrible."
    Photos: The Pack That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    View Slideshow

    American Apparel Fanny pack by American Apparel

    A fanny pack is "not something I would ever think about or talk about," says designer Reed Krakoff. This, despite the fact that the utilitarian leather "apron wraps" shown at his spring 2011 fashion show in September seemed "fanny-pack-like" according to Women's Wear Daily. Mr. Krakoff—who has driven more than a few bag trends in his other role as creative director at Coach Inc.—says his eponymous packs are "inspired by a functional aspect of something but less about actually carrying something." Indeed, most have no pockets.

    That sense of fashion whimsy piqued the curiosity of Beth Buccini, co-owner of the influential New York boutique Kirna Zabête. Last summer, while browsing photographs on the Internet, Ms. Buccini became intrigued by an image of an attractive young woman sporting a fanny pack at the Coachella music festival. She turned to her business partner, Sarah Easley, and said: "It's time."

    Ms. Buccini emailed Ms. Im-Propp, the handbag designer, to ask if she would be interested in designing a "frilly fancy fanny pack " for the high-end retailer to sell exclusively on Fashion's Night Out, the Vogue-sanctioned Manhattan shopping event that coincides with the autumn New York Fashion Week.

    Dreaming up a wave-like design and a belt that fastens in the front or back, Ms. Im-Propp named the style the "Rise belt bag." After it sold out at the Kirna Zabête event last September, she created more versions for her own spring and fall collections.

    Celebrities, increasingly keen to emphasize lower-body curves, have been early adopters. Singer Rihanna was captured by paparazzi while wearing a Louis Vuitton fanny pack on a trip to London in late 2009. Ciara, in her "Gimmie Dat" video, pairs stripper heels and a leather bustier with a giant red fanny pack that spells the word "FLY."

    Belted satchels have adorned the waists of men and women for centuries. The Greeks attached small animal-hide bags containing coins to their belts. Crusaders wore "alms bags" pinned to girdles fastened around their midriffs, a convenient way to distribute money to the poor.

    In the mid-20th century, the fanny pack—then worn with the bag to the rear—emerged as a popular sporting accessory among American skiers and bikers. The pouch was adopted by cautious New Yorkers in the 1970s, "when mugging was a significant threat" recalls Simon Doonan, creative ambassador-at-large at Barneys. That's when the pack rotated 180 degrees, to the front of the body.

    The look enjoyed a fleeting moment of fabulousness in the late 1980s when Chanel featured a quilted version on the runway, but soon thereafter it was relegated to the status of TV gag. On an early episode of "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld points to George Costanza's fanny pack and says that it "looks like your belt is digesting a small animal."

    Louis Vuitton helped reignite the fanny-pack fad last year after putting new styles on the runway. Hermès gave the trend a luxury lift with its slender $4,675 "Kelly Bandeau," set to arrive in stores for spring.
    [​IMG] Traditional Fanny Pack

    —Sherry McKinley

    Some international designers have a cultural reason to back away from the word "fanny." Innocuous slang for the gluteus maximus in the U.S., the word is an obscenity in the U.K. and Australia, where it refers to female genitalia. In those countries, fanny packs are typically known as a "bum bags." The French call the style "le sac banane," a mocking reference to the banana shape of the pouch.

    Despite the lampooning, the usefulness of the item has never eluded true believers.

    Bernadette Connor, a 33-year-old attorney in Seattle, credits her fanny pack with freeing her from the tyranny of large handbags. Her last bag, which she says "was the size of a Labrador puppy," was too cumbersome to carry on her bike, inspiring her to downsize to a black LeSportsac nylon fanny pack.

    In Los Angeles, 30-year-old fashion designer Lizz Wasserman says she rotates her wardrobe of 20 different fanny packs because they are simply the most convenient way she can think of to carry stuff.
    "If you go out dancing, a fanny pack is very necessary," she says. "Especially if you don't want other people dancing with you."

    I use to wear them quite a bit to amusement parks and such when I was younger :P...Now I wear more crossbody bags.
  2. I think I will stick to crossbody bags when I want to be hands free, thanks. :P
  3. Back when I lived near the beach I used a fanny pack or whatever name you want to call them. I quite often would go for a walk after just so much sunbathing and didn't want to leave my keys, money, etc. just 'sitting' there on my towel begging some dead beat to lift it. The fanny pack was perfect for me then, as it would hang low enough as to not disturb my tanning process. But that said, I have retired my ancient leather fanny pack. I still have it, but NEVER use it any longer.
  4. Not a good look!
  5. It quite ewwww IMO but the only person who managed to rock it was Carrie Bradshaw...Gucci in one of the season...but having said that, even SATC is considered passe these day....
  6. ugh, ew
  7. I prefer crossbody for my hands-free needs, but what I find interesting is that the designers mentioned are making variations on the fanny pack, although they refuse to associate with the term 'fanny pack'.
    beenie_x likes this.
  8. umm, I will pass. Messenger bags for sure= hands free
  9. No way.
  10. I guess it's time to dig up my fanny packs from the 80's.. I have a really nice Prada one that I haven't worn in AGES.. I probably should consign them and make some $$ since they are "in" again
  11. I still have to beg and plead my mom to leave the jumbo nylon fanny pack behind when we go on vacation! Messenger bags are much more flattering!
  12. I only found one good use for a fanny pack. When I was in middle school, I stored my pencils, pens, and markers in one. I would then cinch the strap around my stack of books, folders, and notebooks that I had to carry with me. It held everything together nicely.
    KoolygalRN likes this.
  13. No, no, no, no, no...
  14. I think some are cute and if done well can look good. I was surprised to see Jennifer Aniston wearing one in Just Go With It. Looked cute on her!

    Although I do prefer crossbody bags when I want to be handsfree, I wouldn't be opposed to trying out a fanny pack if I felt it looked stylish enough.