Medieval Times to Modern Trend: The Everlasting Appeal of Fanny Packs

A Brief History: From Medieval Pouches to Modern Utility

Fanny packs, also known as bum bags or waist bags, have a fascinating history of fluctuating in and out of fashion. These handy accessories have a long-standing presence in human history, serving various practical purposes. Back in medieval times, people used small pouches tied around their waists to carry money and small belongings since clothes didn’t have pockets. These pouches were often decorated and symbolized status. Similarly, the Scottish kilt, lacking pockets, was accompanied by the sporran bag worn at the front. These early versions highlight the fanny pack’s longstanding utility and importance.

Pexels // Flavio Santos

Moving to the mid-20th century, leather fanny packs became popular among skiers in the 1950s. Their durability and large pockets made them perfect for keeping essentials dry during a day on the slopes. In 1962, Australian Melba Stone claimed she created a waist bag inspired by a kangaroo’s pouch, giving us the modern fanny pack. This design laid the foundation for what we recognize today as the fanny pack, showcasing its evolution over the years.

The Must-Have Accessory: 1980s to 1990s

The 1980s and early 1990s were the peak of fanny pack popularity. As the fitness craze surged, people needed a practical, hands-free way to carry their belongings while jogging, biking, or rollerblading. Fanny packs became the perfect solution. In 1988, Adweek named the fanny pack the product of the year, cementing its status as a must-have accessory. Typically made of nylon or windbreaker-like fabric, these packs came in bright colors that matched the decade’s aesthetic. However, by the late 1990s, fanny packs were seen as outdated and more of a utility item for tourists than a fashion statement, leading to their decline in popularity.

Reinvention and Modern Comeback: Late 2010s to Today

Fashion trends often come full circle, and the fanny pack is no exception. In the late 2010s, designers like Hermes, Gucci, and Chanel reintroduced the fanny pack as sleek belt bags. These new versions resembled larger leather wallets with matching belts, easing the transition back to waist-worn bags. Thanks to the rise of street style, fanny packs made a strong comeback, now often worn across the body for added coolness and easy access.

Pexels // Atiq Rehman

The modern fanny pack, whether made of posh leather or classic nylon, taps into ’90s nostalgia while offering a streamlined design. The pandemic also played a role in their resurgence, as people sought convenient ways to carry essentials with minimal contact. Today, fanny packs remain popular in pop culture, with celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence sporting them and even appearing in movies like the Barbie film. Their enduring design allows them to adapt to current trends, ensuring that fanny packs continue to be a beloved accessory.