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A short history of bum bags

Fanny packs are back

Posted by Sabina McKenna

Bum bags have made a comeback after a few years in the bargain bins at American Apparel. Their long-standing reputation for either dagginness or dealerness has diminished and their style cred has returned, kind of like the time when speed dealers came back into fashion and everyone started dressing like the Matrix.

The bags very much encompass, ‘a look’; one that we think started in the ‘80s insprired by style icons like Neneh Cherry wearing them at the MTV music awards and pretty much every outfit on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It makes a lot of sense that it all started then when you think about it, fashion was very ‘Raw like Sushi’, and everyone who was anyone was sporting some acid wash jeans, gold chains and a glossy fanny pack.

The first glitzy version of the practical and sensible yet aesthetically-challenged bag was made by Chanel (also in the ‘80s). It was only considered couture for a little while before people got over it, but the bumbags from that collection now go for around $3k on Ebay; bumbags are always in fashion if they’re Chanel.

The noughties were the coolest era for the “waist-high-belt bag” (as we are now calling it) and it was also the era that marked the beginning of everyone’s favourite trend: normcore. Wearing jeans and sneakers, with white socks and Reebok classics is another one of those looks that most of us never thought we’d fall victim to. That is until the first time we saw Dev Hynes walking around in a video clip wearing some 501s, held in place by the belt of his very own bum bag. The beginning of the normcore trend was when we all decided to throw our Dunlop tennis shoes and Face Off mytikos out the window to make room for some American Apparel Basic Ts and a magenta fanny pack with fluro yellow straps—thankfully that’s not a thing anymore.

Even though normcore might have passed fanny packs just keep coming back. The late 2000’s was about the time that people realised you didn’t actually have to wear your fanny pack on your fanny. And we started to see them slung across shoulders and draped around necks; transitioning the bumbag from casual to smart casual, which is the attire category it falls under as we know it today.

Countless high-end versions popped up on runways lately including the very loud Louis Vuitton x Supreme collab; Gucci Mane raps about them, and ASAP Rocky and Kendall Jenner love getting about Manhattan running errands (or attending fashion shows or whatever) wearing them. It’s my guess that the bag is here to stay as a part of the post-ironic fashion trend that we’re seeing at the moment, where uncool is cool again but only in a purposely cool/uncool way. Get it?

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