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November 14, 2017

NO. The Fanny Pack Has Returned. Now Cheer. Or Cringe.

In July of 2014, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the actor, former pro wrestler and hulk with a heart of gold, posted a self-mocking throwback photo on Instagram. There he was in all of his dated ’90s attire: a Steve Jobsian-black turtleneck, washed jeans and—slung around his waist—a brown leather fanny pack. A fanny pack on the Rock?! How absurd! Instantly, “Fanny Pack Rock” became a meme pinging about the internet.

The viral sensation reached a new peak when the Rock hosted “Saturday Night Live” last May: In promo photos, he gamely posed in an identical outfit, right down to the lookalike fanny pack at his waist. Sure, laughter ensued, but the fanny pack’s reputation was being transformed. Legitimately stylish people began to reevaluate the lumpen, pancreas-shaped bag, most typically seen tied to tourists in Bermuda shorts, ’80s ravers in Burning Man tie-dye or—most damning of all—your mom out for a jog. The fanny pack started showing up in luxe leathers and sleek nylons at designer labels such as Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton.

That came as a surprise, even to trend forecasters. “Fanny packs, or ‘waist bags’ as we now call them, are the fastest-growing segment in the men’s accessories market,” explained Marshal Cohen, an analyst with the NPD Group, a market research firm. Between September 2016 and this September, sales of the category increased by over 10%, reaching $100 million.

This is not a part of the ’90s I was hoping we might relive.