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A fanny pack or belt bag or belly bag (American English), bum bag (British English) or ket bag (Hiberno-English) is a small fabric pouch usually secured with a zipper and worn by use of a strap around the hips or waist. The American and British names derive from the fact that they are often worn with the pouch above the buttocks, for which "fanny" and "bum" are the slang terms in each country respectively, although they may also be worn with the pouch at the front. The British usage of "fanny" is vulgar slang for the labia, so the name "fanny pack" is rarely used in Britain.
Historically it was strapped to the front of your body so people could protect themselves from bandits. The fanny pack relates back to the stone age in Ireland. Bags attached to belts have been in use since antiquity in many cultures. One origin was the Native American buffalo pouch which was used instead of sewing pockets into clothing. Buffalo pouches may also be worn on the wrist or carried on the front of the chest via a neck strap or lanyard. Ötzi had a belt pouch 5000 years ago. The European medieval belt-pouch is another antecedent which was superseded as clothing came to have pockets. The Scottish sporran is a similar belted pouch that survived because of the impracticality of pockets in a kilt.
The modern version made from synthetic materials came into use in the 1980s and they were especially in vogue in the 1990s, but are now often considered old-fashioned. Their use was satirised by the American humorist Weird Al Yankovic in his song White & Nerdy.
In other cultures they are known as belly bags (in Germany), banana bags (in France), and kidney bags (in Spain), while in Italy is called the marsupio, from the marsupium. Variations include the wristpack, which is essentially a fanny pack for the wrist.
In July 2018, The Boston Globe reported that fanny packs are back in vogue with new packs introduced by fashion designers Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. The designer packs retail for up to $1500 and are being worn by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Jaden Smith, and Russell Westbrook. This time around, the packs can be worn around the waist or worn cross-body. Vogue magazine reported on the trend by writing "Alas, due to our odd fascination with ugly throwback clothing, the fanny pack has been vindicated."
Medieval painting by the Limbourg brothers showing a lord wearing a belt bag with weapon. c1416.
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