My friend Kelli is one of the most stylish women I know and she also happens to be a die-hard Louis Vuitton girl; she loves anything and everything with those little LV’s splattered on it. But even her favorite brand couldn’t lend enough cache to the fanny pack for her to wear one when we traveled to Europe in 2006. That’s right, I said fanny pack. Otherwise known as a manbag, bum bag, or tourist tracker. While these bags were acceptable, nay desired, fashion accessories in the 1990’s, they are now the epitome of geekdom. This is why, even though it cost approximately the same as her car payment, bore her beloved LV’s, and was a practical way to carry her MAC lip gloss, she shunned the little fanny pack her father had gifted her. It never even made it into her suitcase let alone around her waist.
Why is such a practical accessory, which was widely utilized in the 90’s, now so shunned? Is it because we associate it with tourists and as Americans we are hellbent on making it clear that we are from here? But if that was the reason then we should at least embrace the practicality of the bum bag while out of the country but, as we traversed through Europe that summer of 2006, I noticed very few people wearing the convenient fanny pack and the people I did spot with one were never under the age of 55. In youth obsessed America maybe we associate the utilitarianism of the fanny pack with old age and the infirm.
It doesn’t help the reputation of the fanny pack that Weird Al noted it as one of the items stereotypically associated with being “White and Nerdy” – the name of the song he released in, you guessed it, 2006 (watch the video below). The fanny pack was among a long list of geek related items but the most hurtful association had to be with the pocket protector. Ouch! Kelli’s poor fanny pack never stood a chance.
Can the practicality of a fanny pack overcome its association with tourists, old people and nerds? Can the likes of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada lend enough of their name-brand cache to bring the fanny pack back? These questions are equivalent to asking if the stiletto heel will ever be completely out of fashion. Practical? Absolutely not but, while they are painful to stand in, let alone walk in, stilettos are associated with fashion and are considered one of the ultimate symbols of sexiness. Fanny packs, alas, are practical but have never been considered sexy. While I owned a few in the 90’s this fashionita just doesn’t see this trend returning. Besides, there is no room in my closet due to all of the stilettos.
Weird Al Yankovic’s "White & Nerdy"