When I landed in Europe in May, I saw them everywhere. Slung across the backs of cyclists in Copenhagen, strapped firmly to the chest of (male and female) party goers in Berlin, and balanced on the hip of fashionable women in pretty much every country we visited: the waist pack. Or hip pack, fanny pack, bum bag, belt bag – no one can seem to agree on what to call it. (Hint, fanny is a name for a woman’s genitalia in Australia, so don’t call it that while you’re Down Under, no pun intended.) But it is definitely starting to have its moment in Europe.
It’s telling that these bags, so popular as to be a necessity to European women, don’t even have their own category on any of the biggest online secondhand outlets. But it’s only a matter of time before they hit the U.S. with force.
I’m not talking about the fanny packs your mom wore to Disneyland in the 90s, by the way. (Though Eastpak is doing a swift business in Berlin). They’ve grown up and found their style.
I’m convinced these bags are the sartorial culmination of feminism. Androgynous (men wear them too), supremely practical instead of delicate or cumbersome, and surprisingly roomy, they are appropriate for almost any occasion, especially if you get one with removable straps that can be turned into a clutch in a cocktail party-style pinch. (Which I’ve done multiple times in the past few months.)
It’s also a lifesaver for traveling. I put all the big stuff in my backpack, but having a small hip pack strapped across my chest allows me to easily access (and protect) my passport, wallet, and phone.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many ethical brands who have seen this trend coming. So brands, allow me to make a request: please make more sustainable hip bags! Just take your clutch (which, let’s face it, is as impractical and outdated as a pair of spike heels) and add a detachable strap that goes around the waist. Boom – it’s a versatile, practical, and fresh wardrobe must-have.
In the meantime, here are the five sustainable waist packs I found that a modern and beautiful:
Designed in Brooklyn and produced in a woman-owned, women-led factory in India, Naissant’s unique belt bags come with detachable phone holders and different-shaped mini bags for ultimate customization. The leathers used are vegetable-tanned and certified by the Leather Working Group and all of the linings, dust bags, and hangtag strings are made out of 100% cotton. Plus, all packaging is made out of recycled and recyclable materials and 100% of the carbon emissions related to the bag’s lifecycle is offset by the brand.