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All You've Ever Wanted To Know About The Fanny Pack And How to Wear It

by Anna Godefroy

One bag, endless possibilities, numerous names and an undefined history of origin… it must be the fanny pack! You might have guessed that the secret of its name lies in its placement on your body. In the UK it is referred to as the bum bag, in the US it is known as the fanny pack. A more sophisticated crowd calls it belt bag or waist bag. Whatever is your preferred way, it is clear that you are referring to a small utility bag worn around hips - a staple of the 90s fashion. 

When designing on the Isidore fanny packs, I got curious: who had the first idea to wear a bag around their waist? And even more so - how did this practical utility bag make it to the hottest fashion shows in Paris? 


Who Invented The Fanny Pack?

Origins of this bag are a bit fuzzy. Multiple theories relate it to different inventors and periods in history. 

Some theories position the fanny pack as early as the Stone Age. According to Time magazine (1992), a discovery of a frozen human body dating back over 5,000 years included a small version of the bum bag (Source: inStyle magazine). I swear..this is not a joke! Some say it was Native Americans who wore buffalo pouches around their waist the first (Source: Wikipedia). 

What remains clear after my research is that since the early times’ humans searched for a way to carry their belongings while having their hands free. A version of the fanny pack as we know it today existed long before the modern times.


From A Recreational Accessory To Paris Catwalks

Australian women Melba Stone is often credited as the inventor of the fanny pack design as we know it today. According to various sources, she has been inspired by the kangaroo pouch. However, at the same time, it also made an appearance in Sports Illustrated issues in the USA. So the mystery of its origin remains. In the mid-20th century, fanny packs became popular with cross country skiers and bicyclists. It was an ideal accessory for those who wanted to keep active (Source: Heddels).  

It was the late 80s and especially the 90s when the rise of ‘athleisure’ style made the fanny pack a staple of a fashionista’s wardrobe. Its position as a cult accessory was cemented when Chanel started manufacturing luxury versions of this bag.

The trend started to subside by the end of the 90s. The most coveted accessory of the decade was suddenly outdated.

The Comeback Of The Fanny Pack: Who Wore It Better?

While it wasn’t seen much on the high street, the style remained popular with skaters and festival-goers. The practicality of the fanny pack could not be denied and while no one attempted to make fashion statements with this bag throughout the Naughties, the bag remained in use.

Thanks to the hipster nostalgia, the fanny pack made a revival in the late 2010s and by 2018 it was back and doing better than ever. Gucci, Louis Vuitton jumped on board by producing their versions. It was seen on the hottest celebrities and in the pages of all fashion titles. 

Its name might have evolved to ‘crossbody bag’, designs now include variations like ‘chest bag’ and ‘vest bag’, however, we all know that it is still a humble bum bag in disguise.


How To Style Your Fanny Pack?

The 90s fashion is definitely back in style in 2020-21 so you don’t need to look far back in history for inspiration on how to wear your new fanny pack. 

Think plaid shirts, slip dresses, gold chains, crop tops and Doc Martens. Here are some of our favourite ways to wear this bag.

Beach essentials

Avoid unwanted tan lines by carrying your essentials in a bum bag around your hips. Wear it over a caftan or bikini. Effortless, practical and stylish.

bbethyy pinterest_fannypack britcot
@bbethyy Pinterest @britcot


The cool kid of the 90s

Inject a bit of nostalgia to your modern look. Add a crop top or tie a plaid shirt around your hips and wear the bum bag across your body.

mariammgill jherms laudeliii
@mariammgill @jherms @laudeliii

The preppy look

If your style is less casual, wear the bum bag over your shoulder. It will go well with a co-ordinated mini skirt and jacket combo. You can even pair it with high heels as long as your overall style is not office-chic.

brigidamartinez tiefenbacherlehmann
@brigidamartinez @tiefenbacherlehmann