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July 9, 2019

Fanny Pack Fandom: A History of the World’s Most Hated (or Loved) Accessory

Submitted by Amy Maciejewski

It’s official: fanny packs are back in style. For us in the promotional products world, that’s a great thing. It means another spot for an imprint to help show our clients off to the world. But now that they’re back, many wonder where fanny packs came from at all. Here’s a hint: They weren’t born during the last mega-surge of the accessory’s popularity.

Bags held around our waists are nothing new—a 5,300-year-old mummy was found with a belt bag (the new, hip term for fanny packs), and in Edwardian and Victorian times, women carried belongings in bags around their waists. But the fanny pack as we know it today first emerged in 1954, on the pages of Sports Illustrated. They advertised a leather pouch on a belt for skiers and other outdoorsy types, allowing then to keep their hands free when needing to carry important gear. It’s cost? About $95, after we account for inflation. (The original cost was a cool ten bucks, but that was pretty expensive back then.) It was a best seller.

The bag evolved in the 60s and 70s in Europe—again for skiers and outdoorsy folks, but now also for photographers. Then, in the 80s, Gucci, Nike, and Chanel caught the fanny pack bug. Once these brands started marketing them, the bags catapulted into popularity. It coincided with the rise of athlesiure; the fanny pack was a godsend for people casually dressed in workout clothes that didn’t have pockets. Pop culture caught on, and now everybody was wearing them.

And then, promotional products killed the fanny pack. Major corporations and businesses began putting logos on the bags and giving them away, the market became oversaturated, and people started to hate them because they were suddenly super commercial instead of on the cutting edge of fashion.

Lately, though, as wearing logos is becoming more popular, the belt bags are experiencing a renaissance. They’re available (with a logo, of course) from high-end brands like Valentino and Louis Vuitton. Interestingly enough, they aren’t really worn as fanny packs any more. Most people sling them over a shoulder and across their torso, messenger bag style. Perhaps it deserves a name change, too?

If you want to capitalize on the belt bag trend, give Idea Custom Solutions a call and we’ll help you come up with a campaign for your clients.

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