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Inside Streetwear's Strange Obsession With The Fanny Pack

Posted by Ross Dwyer at

"It's European" 
It's been 27 years since the famous Seinfield episode in which George got roasted by Jerry for his choice in bags, and we'd be willing to bet that the Seinfield crew would never guess that almost 3 decades later, those "European" pouches would be one of the hottest accessories in street culture (the Supreme and North Face collaborative joint sold out in mere seconds last Thursday), but here we are. It's 2017, and the fanny pack is still very much a thing.
No matter if you call them bum bags, waist pouches, shoulder bags, fanny packs, man purses, or whatever else (there's more than a few names for them), you can't deny the influence of the small bags on our culture, and no matter if you love them or hate them ... they're here to stay. But what do you really know about the fanny pack (we'll stick to calling it that for the duration of this article for clarity)? 
Yes, they are European, but they've got a much richer and more interesting backstory than just that, and it's one we're sharing with you today ... so let's dive right in. You'll likely have a much greater appreciation for the small bags (and the cultural relevance they've established) when we're done. 
The fanny pack first rose to relevance in the mid 80's-early 90's as a practical accessory for those who were on the go, no matter if they were tourists or just men about town who needed a little more storage room than their pockets could offer. At this point, the fanny pack had no weight on the wearer's sartorial choices, but as the mid 90's swung around and bright, colorful sportswear became the norm, it wasn't uncommon to see a fashion-forwards individual rocking a matching pack with their tracksuit (think today's "roadman" look, except with bright neon colors). 
The fanny pack was still around in the mid-00's, but was more looked over as a random accessory than anything with any real sort of fashion clout. So how did we get to where we are today? A place where everyone from sportswear nuts to streetwear kids to high-fashion lovers have embraced the fanny pack? There's a few different trends/movements that brought it to this level. 
Normcore
Remember the normcore trend? Frankly, you're lucky if you don't. Distilled down, the goal of normcore was to look as normal as possible. Essentially trying really hard to put together the most basic, suburban-dad-like fit you could. Trying really hard while looking like you weren't trying at all. Baggy stone-washed denim, New Balance ... and fanny packs. The trend has come and gone, but the packs have (thankfully) stayed.
Festivals
If you're at a music festival, you don't want to be carrying around a bunch of stuff in your pockets, but you might not need something as hefty as a backpack interfering with your turn-up either. Enter the fanny pack. You can keep everything you need (legal or not) close at hand without lugging around a bulky bag. And as festival fashion became more and more of a thing (how many people go to Coachella mainly to take pictures? More than you might think), the fanny pack rose in popularity as well. 
Vintage
You simply can't ignore the influence of vintage in today's world of street culture. Some thought it would be a passing phrase, but it's still just as popular as ever. Everything 80's and 90's, from Tommy Hilfiger to Polo to vintage Nike and more is hot, and as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the fanny pack was a commonly spotted accessory back then (we're just wondering where we can find one of those Game Boy jawns in the photo above). The bright, loud, all-over colors and prints from that era certainly make for some interesting accessorizing today.  
Tumblr Vibes
Similar to the normcore trend, a popular style in today's market is throwing on a random, disjointed mis-mash of clothes that you wouldn't think work at all together ... but they somehow still look extremely dope and unique. There's not really a name for this trend, so we've named it a "Tumblr vibe", but the fanny pack is the perfect accessory for this all-over the place look that's so hot right now. 
In short, at the end of the day, the practicality and ease of use (plus the little extra ironic flair) are what keep the fanny pack thriving in today's world. You might be a British roadman hoodlum, or you might be a New York cyclist who needs a little extra storage space ... but no matter what you are, a fanny pack can work with what you're rocking, no matter if you need it for practical or stylistic purposes. 
What do you think of fanny packs? Do you own any? If so, do they serve more of a functional or a fashion-forwards purpose for you? Hit us up and let us know on Twitter, check our Facebook page for updates, and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fire pictures you can handle.

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