The Rise and Fall of Bum Bags

How did the once dorky trend go from rags to riches?

Credit: Jennifer Padilla

Bum bags are arguably the most polarising bag in the accessory community. They’ve come a long way from being thrown in the bargain bins at Urban Outfitters.The hands-free bag has been a symbol for dorkiness among tourists and dads for the past several years, but they’re back as brands like Fendi, Zara and Balenciaga showcase the once unfashionable trend on their shelves.

Bum bags date back to the Copper Age when a 5300-year-old frozen human body’s wardrobe was shown to be wearing “belt bags” made of leather and fur. Time magazine’s October 26, 1992 cover story reported the discovery of the human, Otzi the Iceman, wearing “a leather pouch resembling a small version of the ‘fanny packs’ worn by tourists today.” That’s right. People were already sporting the trend, granted it was for a more practical use in hunting and gathering. 

The United Kingdom first coined “bum bag” in the 1950s, but the bag is now more popularly known as a fanny pack. However, it wasn’t until the ‘80s when the trend gained some footing. Bum bags started popping up in its true form: nylon, neon-coloured and purely worn around the waist. They were being sported based on functionality rather than a fashion statement. Around the same time, tourism had significantly risen in popular cities, such as New York and Japan, and bum bags were simply being used for practical travel purposes.

By the ‘90s, the trend had shifted into athleisure wear, with women wearing their Kelly Kapowski biker shorts and fitted crop tops. Not to mention the iconic Dwayne the Rock Johnson outfit back in 1996 of the wrestler sporting a black turtleneck, light wash denim and an ever so tiny black patent bum bag.

Somewhere along the way, bum bags became “dorkier” and “dad like” rather than fashionable.

Fashion writer for the LA based website Good + Well Erin Bunch wrote an article titled: “How to wear a fanny pack without looking like your dad”. She says for a while, the trend was embarrassing to sport. She remembers seeing her mum and dad wearing the bags around their waist on family vacations during the ‘90s.

While the trend still got its bad rap in the media, Karl Lagerfeld created quilted black lambskin fanny packs for Chanel in 1994, while Louis Vuitton also started gracing fanny packs in runway shows. While designers started to join in on the bum bag fad, there was an irony that came with the look.

In her article, Bunch says it was the nylon material and utilitarian use that made the look so dated in the ‘80s, which is why the fad had faded. Bunch changed her opinion though during the early 2000’s, when she saw Carrie Bradshaw wearing a Gucci bum bag with a black crop top and striped skirt on an episode of Sex and the City.

“That was the first time I saw one and thought it was styled pretty cool,” Bunch says.“They came back in 2017 when I wrote that article because ‘it girls’ like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were starting to wear them.”

Stylist and fashion blogger Jennifer Padilla frequently wears her studded leather Zara bum bag with her street and chic style on her Instagram feed. She remembers when she first saw fashion influencer and Youtuber Brittany Xavier sporting a red blazer and a Fendi bum bag cinched in at the waist. It inspired Padilla to purchase a bum bag of her own. She says as an ‘80s baby, she remembers when bum bags were simply made of nylon, cheesy neon colours and a zipper across the top.

 “I remember even as a kid seeing fanny packs when I was growing up and thinking ‘Oh that’s ugly,’” the stylist said. “I think it’s about how they were styled back then. People would wear them with baggy pants or even overalls with the one strap hanging, but I mean look at all these couture high fashion brands rocking these pieces.”

For Padilla, the trend went from ugly to couture because the materials were evolving as brands such as Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga started showing them in a chicer design in 2015 fashion runways. The other reason she feels the trend has evolved is because more women and men started wearing them across the chest.

Bunch agrees that it all comes down to the way they’re being worn, along with the people who sport fanny packs today.

“I feel like today, trends don’t come in and out of fashion like they used to so intensely. Personal style is dictated through different ways now,” Bunch says. “It used to be strictly the runways that said what was in fashion, and nowadays it’s influencers and social media as well, so there’s so many more voices and style has become a lot more eclectic as a result.”

To see them go from a practical bag to carry sunscreen in to the accessory piece of 2018 is quite a statement. Now fashion buyers seem them in every iteration of brand from Topshop’s neon green bum bag to Nasty Gal’s silver studded black version of the bag. When you see Rihanna sporting a coral-coloured power suit with a matching cinched in fanny pack, it’s hard not to want to rock one too. So here’s to the fanny pack comeback!

How to Rock Your Fanny Pack

Over the Shoulders: People have been sporting their bum bags over the shoulders, and it virtually works with any look. The over the shoulder look is for street wear everyday looks. If you’re keeping it casual with sweatpants, you can keep your look minimalistic with a matching sweatshirt and a bright coloured bum bag. You can also wear it with a simple denim jean and t-shirt for a more low key look. For someone with a more athletic built or pear shape, this is the way to wear it to accentuate the top half of your body.

Keep it Classic: If you’re apple shaped, this will be the most flattering way to wear the bum bag, and it works the best for BBQ’s, amusement parks, or just a fun summer day out. The classic nylon bag is nothing to be ashamed of as you can rock it with distressed jeans and an open bomber jacket for some more edge. You can also wear it more formally if it’s slung over a long floral skirt and an oversized fuzzy jumper.

Cinch it in: If you have an hourglass figure and want to call attention to your waist rather than your hips, try purchasing a bum bag that belts at the waist. This is the sleekest way to rock a bum bag especially if it’s a boxier shape. You can rock it like Rihanna by wearing a satin blazer and smart pair of trousers, or you can keep it more casual with a simple A-line dress.

Special thanks to Jennifer Padilla and Erin Bunch for the interviews and photos for my article! You can follow Jennifer here and Erin here.

Style Trend: Quirky Accessories

A lot of these bags and clutches that are crafted into objects are so cool to look at. They are very commercial right now, but you might be wondering how you might actually style these with your wardrobe. I went to Polyvore.com to search for some of the tougher ones to pull off. Here’s what I think a person can rock for each bag, so hopefully it gives you some ideas.

Accessories.jpg

  1. The French Fries Bag: This little bag is adorable but hard to pull off, especially with the bright red and yellow color. For this bag, I’d recommend an edgier outfit in a black and white outfit. I’d wear casual blue jeans with a simple white tee and a leather jacket. In general, I’d take a more casual approach to this bag.
  2. The Book Clutch: This clutch is a nice play on carrying a book everywhere you go. But when would someone use this? For this clutch, I’d take a much more preppier approach. I’d wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with a blazer and loose tank top. Again, it’s something to bring along if you’re just going to a lunch so it’s a casual look with a preppy vibe.
  3. The Panda Bear: This is a bag that can be worn with a simple striped shirt and jeans or can be worn with a fun polka dot print. For this clutch, I’d focus on a print. If you want to tone down the outfit, stick to the black and white print. If you want a louder statement, wear a bold color. Just don’t do both, otherwise it’ll be too much.
  4. The Camera: Similar to the book, I like the idea of turning a bag into something people legitimately carry around with them at all times. For this bag, I like the idea of wearing a bright color sun dress in a bright green or pink color. Because the bag is so animated, I think the brighter colors work better here for a fun look.
  5. The Face: The clutch is very animated and I love that it can be worn casually too. This is a fun clutch to bring if you’re going out because it’s small and still a statement piece. The pop of red is a nice touch too.
  6. The Lemon: This was my favorite bag of the bunch. It’s summery and would work for a more formal event. It’s a little more understated too. For this bag, I’d wear a shift dress in a bright color like cobalt blue or green because I like mixing solid colors. For a casual look, I think a loose button down with cutoff shorts would work well with the bag to make it stand out.
  7. The Paper Bag: This was hands down the hardest bag to even imagine having. It’s the most interesting but how would someone use this? After realizing it’s actually vinyl, I thought this metallic bag served more as a clutch so I could see someone wearing it in place of a metallic clutch.
  8. The Toothless Backpack: I actually think this bag is super versatile, but I wanted to add it because it’s Toothless, which is awesome. You can bring this to an airport as a carry on or for everyday activities like going to class or shopping.
  9. The Fan Bag: I like that this is a more feminine bag than the others so it has a much more romantic feel. I would use this for a formal event with a soft pastel colored dress or a floral printed dress. It would also work with lace or crocheted dresses.
  10. The Eggs Bag: This is a cute little pouch to put in a larger carry on so it’s versatile enough to throw coins in or put makeup in.

If you liked any of these bags enough, you can find the details here in my original post on Polyvore: http://www.polyvore.com/animated_accessories/set?id=200904237

How to Train Your Dragon: Toothless Bag

In case you haven’t heard, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the current front-runner to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film! I loved the movie so much and thought it was just as good as the first movie! In honor of the movie, I thought I’d share this adorable bag of our favorite dragon, Toothless. It’s by Fendi and my friend Megan showed me the photo through the upmarket department store Harrods‘ Instagram account! The bag is very representative of the movie without going full out animated and crazy. Love the simplicity!

Also, bravo to Fendi for being versatile and using a zipper as his mouth!

http://instagram.com/harrods/

Let me know if you like this adorable bag by leaving a comment or by following me! 🙂