October 16, 2018
Issue 12 2018

How the bum bag became the man’s handbag

From being a shunned fashion item associated with embarrassing dads, the bum bag has now become one of fashion’s most sought out trends, on the runway and in the streets.

Formally known as the fanny pack in America, or the bum bag in the UK, the bag is now fashionably known as a waist bag.

The waist bag has made an unexpected return to modern day fashion and is seen as a popular staple accessory that has been flying off the shelves of retail stores.

Predominantly worn by males, the waist bag has always been gender-neutral. However, the bags have more recently generated attention from male celebrities and influencers, who are reclaiming the bag as a fashion statement.

Waist bags are becoming a popular fashion accessory for men.

Wellington boutique Good as Gold, and clothing store I Love Ugly, stock a range of waist bags. Both stores told Massive Magazine the bags had sold out within days of being in stock.

The bags traditionally comprise of a pouch with a horizontal zipper and belt clips, although some can have a more luxe look with premium materials such as leather and belt straps. Nowadays the size of the bag can range from your regular small pouch to a large pouch and can not only be worn around the waist but also over the shoulder or across your body.

Price also varies. A Nike waist bag can cost you up to $60, while a Gucci waist bag can cost you up to $1475.

“People are quick to get our stock of waist bags, and they sell out in a matter of three to four days,” says Good as Gold Wellington Sales Assistant Raag Ponnuchetty.

Ponnuchetty, a user of a waist bag says the bags are “practical and convenient”.

“I love how my pockets aren’t weighed down, and I can fit in so many things like my phone, wallet, keys, and even a banana. Knowing that you can fit and have everything essential strapped to you is a big reason as to why someone might choose to rock a waist bag.”

Ponnuchetty says that social media and streetwear is a huge contributor on the revival of the waist bag.

“Social media being easily accessible and seeing influencers like Kanye West and A$AP Rocky pull off a waist bag, you want to see if you can pull it off too.

“In terms of streetwear, brands such as Supreme and even high fashion brands like Louis Vuitton are curating their own fanny packs which celebrities are rocking. But people who may not have or want to pay that kind of money for a bag end up trying to find a cheaper alternative to get the same look.”

New Zealand clothing brand I Love Ugly curated their own rendition of the waist bag and the bags have become one of their most popular selling items, both online and instore.

I Love Ugly Wellington Sales Assistant, Jamie Dobbs, says the bags sell out within days

“Most of our bags have sold out within a week, I think people are looking for new bags since there is such a huge market for it now and they want to stand out with something different.”

Dobbs believes ‘vintage’ as a trend is what helped set up the return of the waist bag, as accessories are emerging as important items.

“Vintage culture being trendy and displayed through celebrities like rappers and influencers bearing the waist bag, clunky and big ‘dad’ shoes, and jewellery has made accessories become a statement, rather than just the clothes you wear.

“Among some young adults who attend festivals and travel, waist bags serve a purpose of holding important items that you wouldn’t want lost or stolen. Now you don’t have to worry about the embarrassment that comes with wearing a waist bag since they’re fashionable now.”

Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, co-founders of unisex waist bag brand Ashya told Vogue their brand was built with a focus on the belt bag.

“We wanted customers to appreciate its beauty as well as its utilitarian value. We designed the bags to hold the essential items such as passport, keys, phones, credit cards, etc.

“The bags encourage minimalism and hope to give the wearer a sense of freedom and ease with day-to-day travel.

“With the evolution of the travel industry, especially with the millennial generation placing a high value in culturally enriched experiences and the natural desire for adventure, it only made sense to design something that spoke to not only our lifestyles, but the lifestyles of the people around us,” says Cimone and Annece.

Massey University student Taane Koorey Te-Huki, sports a Nike waist bag and says he wears the waist bag because of its practicality.

However, he mentions he never would have thought he would wear one it if it weren’t for the influence of the crowd and celebrities.

“Celebrities like Drake and Kanye West, and even athletes like LeBron James and Odell Beckham JR are seen rocking a waist bag. These individuals not only pursue their careers in music or sport, but also are style icons which fans like myself find inspiration from.

“I never ever would have thought I would be wearing a bum bag, I felt they were always associated with dads tramping or travelling which made wearing them an embarrassing image.

“I think the main conversion trait for the waist bag is how practical and functional it is, and how easy it is to use. Having my hands or pockets full is such a nuisance and I think a lot of people can relate to that. A waist bag literally stops me from having to worry about dropping or losing things, and my hands are free to do whatever they want now.”

The waist bag has resurged from being associated with embarrassing dads, to being fashionably appropriate. With the help of influencers and celebrities trending the bag to be fashionable, the practicality and functionality of the bag seems to be the frontrunner as to how and why the bag has become 2018’s biggest fashion trends.