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Deb's Desk: A Fanny Pack Revolutionary Reflects on the Evolution of the Belt Bag

Hey, fannies.

In February, the runways of Paris Fashion Week gave a preview of what designers have on the docket for Fall/Winter ‘18. Gucci, for example, held their Fall ‘18 runway show on a set designed to look like an operating room with models casually carrying baby dragons and lifelike replicas of their heads. The invitations were hermetically sealed bags with digital timers inside, ominously counting down to showtime. The whole thing was very Game of Thrones meets Nip/Tuck and leaves us wondering what the heck we’re going to be wearing come fall...

Will I pick up my head replica at the local Zara, or will I have to make my own paper mache version at home? Let’s pump the breaks and remember why we’re all here. The CLOTHES. Buried beneath all this beautiful chaos was the return of the Gucci fanny pack. If you walk away from this concerning intro paragraph with one nugget of truth, remember this: the Fashion Week gods have spoken, and they say, “The PACK is BACK, baby!”

For Deb Johns, the pack never left. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays Deborah Waterman Johns from wearing her black Prada fanny pack. “I’ve worn them every single day since Tucker was born, and he’s 28. So, yeah...It’s a thing,” she said as she gingerly arranged the 5 Prada bags that made the cut for our shoot. Each one has a distinct purpose, significance, and ranking in her collection.

“It’s frustrating because it’s been fifteen years since they made this one, the one I wear every day. I tried one that’s a little more utilitarian, like, maybe I would wear it if I was going hiking? Then, they decided to make one for men, so I got that one. I quickly learned that the only time I’d wear it would be if I wanted to carry a small child inside of it. The thing is huge. But, then you get the opposite with these chic little guys, I would only want to wear those if I was going out at night, or something. I’m not going to wear those while I’m sitting at my desk, working…” she trails off.

Fortunately, we've shifted away from saying “fanny pack,” and have started calling them “belt bags.” I bet Melba Stone, the Australian woman credited with the invention of the “bumbag” in 1962, is majorly relieved. She hadn’t intended for her kangaroo pouch-inspired carry-all to be called a vulgar name like “fanny pack.” Pretty much every country besides the United States calls it a “bumbag.” Come on, America. Can't we all agree that "fanny” is weird, and “bum” is British and cute? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I guess.

Anywho, now the whole “belt” aspect has become a more integral component of the bag, which makes sense in our handsfree age. Deb finds the heavier focus on the belt interesting as belts are a “dying breed.” She makes a good point. I wore ribbon belts with corduroys and Hollister polos to my 7th-grade mixers, and I’ve never owned one since. Belts are just so...belt-y. I don’t know. But it does make one wonder how the trend will affect the modern woman.

“It’s a really interesting movement,” Deb says. She calls it the “silent killer.” If everybody starts wearing them, then it could truly change their lives. When people like Olivia Wilde, Kim K, Beyonce, and Jimmy Kimmel are being recognized as fanny pack industry disruptors, you know a fashion revolution's brewin'.

From fashion household names like Balenciaga, Prada, Alexander Wang, Zimmerman, Marc Jacobs, and Chloe to skate brands like Supreme and Adidas, belt bags are hitting the front lines. They're doing all kinds of crazy stuff with these bags as if to say, “Hey! These aren’t just for fannies anymore.” With the option for a crossbody, waist, and shoulder bag all in one, the sky's the limit.

Deb feels most women realize, even before having children, that when you’re outnumbered and don’t have enough hands to do everything, the last thing you need is a bag in your hand.

It’s also become a security thing, especially in big cities. Most people don’t want to carry a wallet, because it’s so easy to pull out of a larger bag. If all your essentials are around your waist, it’s more difficult to take. Plus, when you know your stuff is secure, then you feel secure. When you feel fully secure, you have a deeper sense of freedom. At this point, you’re basically, a fully self-actualized human bean. Now, look at you go! You’re living your truth and can freely dance to the rhythm of life. Isn’t the rhythm of life a powerful beat? Alright, I'm sold. BRB. Headed to the local belt bagerie and arming myself for success.

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