Bum bags (Australia), fanny packs (USA), banana bags (France), kidney bags (Spain), marsupio (Italy), canguru (Costa Rica); the humble utility belt bag has become an iconic fashionable item of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Fitness culture started to escalate in the west when American author James Fixx published the best-selling book The Complete Book of Running in 1977. Fixx’s book touted the health benefits of regularly running and soon caused a jogging revolution in America. Fitness culture during this period was also endorsed by celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Cindy Crawford, who released workout tapes for you to sweat along at home. Decades before, the fashionable silhouettes of broad shoulder masculinity and hourglass femininity had been achieved through the illusions of tailoring and corsetry. The removal of these restrictive garments from contemporary wardrobes did not stop the pursuit of the fashionable silhouette; it was now simply tied to the pursuit of the perfect body through intensive exercise.
Sportswear, which had not changed drastically since the 1930s, was evolving alongside the changing lifestyles of the new, fitness-conscious America. High performance textiles such as lycra, changed the fit and shape of athletic clothes, while fashion influenced their colour and cut.
Sportswear, which had not changed drastically since the 1930s, was evolving alongside the changing lifestyles of the new, fitness-conscious America. High performance textiles such as lycra, changed the fit and shape of athletic clothes, while fashion influenced their colour and cut. During the 1970s sportswear brands were evolving to accommodate a rapidly growing market; it was no longer just clothing that these businesses produced, but also all other accessories associated with an active lifestyle. This included footwear, sunglasses, socks, caps, visors, duffle bags, backpacks and bum bags. These accessories, while founded in the practicalities of outdoor activities, such as hiking, jogging and organised sports, were quickly subsumed into the everyday wear of middle-class America. With this we see the birth of the word “Athleisure”, which was first used in 1979 as a term referring to the range of clothing and accessories that were being designed and worn as both sportswear and everyday wear.
The bum bag, originally designed as a convenient carry-all for the walking enthusiast, was one of the many athletic accessories to make a home for itself in casual, fashionable (and unfashionable) wardrobes.
Not only was the small, waist-belt positioned bum bag great for carrying exercise essentials such as water, snacks or your house keys on a longer jog or walk, it was also the perfect size for the newly developed portable music devices such as the Walkman (1970s) and the Discman (1980s). Hip Hop artists of the 1980s and 90s had a particularly strong influence on the role of sportswear in fashion. Rejecting the glamour and luxury of high fashion, that was so far removed from the roots of their urban communities, these artists embraced sports wear and casual street clothing. Through the influence of this rapidly expanding music genre, sportswear and some essential accessories - such as the Kangol bucket hat, Adidas tracksuits, Chuck Taylor sneakers and bum bags - became imbued with the enduring cool of Hip Hop cultures.
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