1940s White Stag Belt with Pouch

I just could not bring myself to call this a fanny pack, and it would have been wrong of me to do so.  The pouch on a belt concept really caught on sometime in the late 1980s (if memory serves me correctly) but this pouch on a belt dates to probably the early 1940s.  It’s a great example of a find that I didn’t know I needed until I spotted it on Etsy.



I’ve based my dating on two things.  First, the label is very similar to one I found as part of a 1941 White Stag ad for ski clothing.  After WWII, the White Stag label in ski togs was red with white lettering.  The only time I’ve seen the above logo which is so similar to my label is in that 1941 ad.

Just as important is the Alpine folkloric motif embroidered on the belt.  I’ve written about this in the past, and the next few paragraphs are adapted from an old blog post.

Even though the US was inching toward war with Germany in 1941, there was a vogue for clothing decoration that was similar to that of German, Bavarian, Tyrolean or Swiss motifs. This has always struck me as being a bit odd, especially after it was clear that the US was going to war with Germany, and these clothes were so reminiscent of German folk dress.

In his book Forties Fashion, Jonathan Walford explains that in the 1930s, the Nazi German leadership actively encouraged the wearing of  Germanic folk costume, and the dirndl-wearing blonde German ideal commonly appeared in German propaganda images.  The use of Alpine-inspired details even appeared in Paris in 1936.

In looking at American fashion magazines, I’ve seen Alpine fashions featured as early as 1935.  Most often I’ve seen clothing from the Austrian firm, Lanz of Salzburg, used. Lanz was started as a maker of traditional Austrian folk costumes  in Austria in 1922 by Josef Lanz and Fritz Mahler.  By the mid 1930s they were exporting clothing to the  US, and in 1936 Josef Lanz opened a branch of Lanz, Lanz Originals, in New York.

As  the US moved toward war with Germany, these clothes continued to be popular.  Interesting, Lanz advertised in magazines such as Vogue and Glamour throughout the war, but in their ad copy, there is never any reference to the fact that the clothes are so similar to German folk dress.

But why did this style continue to be so popular in the US?  I  have some theories.  First, “ethnic” fashions of all kinds were gaining in favor in the late 1930s.  Magazines did features on South American clothes, and Mexican and tropical prints were popular.  The dirndl skirt was used with lots of prints, not just with Alpine embroidery.

Also, these fashions were already in women’s and girl’s closets.  It stands to reason that in a time of shortages that a garment that would “go with” what the shopper already had would be desired.

If you want a deeper explanation, then you might consider the theory that enemies tend to copy their foes in dress, a form of cultural imperialism.

But all historic and cultural explanation aside, I wanted this because I have a small capsule collection of the Alpine motif garments, and this was a nice addition to that group.  I also have a 1940s gray with red trim ski suit.  What luck!

Thanks to IKnowWhatImWearing on etsy for such a great addition to my collection.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Winter Sports, World War II

29 responses to “1940s White Stag Belt with Pouch

  1. Thanks for the background on Lanz. I had thought they began as a nightgown company. I loved their dresses in the 60’s. I used to admire the sundresses in a little upscale shop in my hometown. Then I would go over to the dime store, buy a fabric remnant, and make one up for pennies on the dollar.


  2. This pouch is really cute. Would it have been worn with a ski outfit? For some reason it seems like an Alpine ski look to me.


  3. Lovely piece to add to your collection, Lizzie ~ congratulations!
    I also thought of Lanz & Nightwear, until finding a to-die-for sundress in Carmel one summer (1990’s). They did lovely, delicate things.
    Good point about etsy finds & crediting the sellers.


    • The Lanz history is a bit complicated, mainly due to there being two branches – one in the US and the other in Austria – and also due to the war. About twelve years ago a friend and I tried to sort it all out for the VFG Label Resource, and realized there are huge unknowns in the story. The nightgowns came later, and I love how they retained a bit of the folkloric in their fabrics.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My Lanz wardrobe began and ended at the flannel nightgowns, which I wouldn’t wear now because of the neckline coming up so high on the neck. This little waist bag is adorable!. For milady’s ski slope necessities — a nickel for hot chocolate, maybe some lipstick or skin salve?


  5. That bag is so charming–and looks like it fits in perfectly with your red and gray ski outfit! I’m very interested in the discussion about the popularity of German/Alpine traditional clothing during the war years. It does seem counter-intuitive that it would remain popular, but I like the explanation that these styles were already in the closets of so many, and these were years in which people saved money, out of necessity and/or patriotism. The style does evoke a Heidi-like charm and cheerful simplicity that it would be difficult to demonize. Anti-German sentiment in the US may have been much worse during WWI than WWII (I live near a town that changed its name to Marne–for the Battle of Marne–from Berlin during WWI).

    Great find!


  6. Such interesting thoughts on the Alpine motif! Maybe neutral Switzerland, which also had its own folk traditions, was part of the appeal, especially since it was known for its skiing and ski resorts. But that wouldn’t explain the popularity of Lanz. I wore lots of Lanz clothing in high school. If I remember correctly, Irene Saltern worked briefly for the company in California.


  7. I remember White Stagg and Lantz from the 60’s thru my mother/her shop-the belt with pouch bag is a nice find! In Washington/NY they were popular late 70’s-early 80’s.We sold them at Woodward/Lothrop. We carried them in nylon(luggage fabric) and in leather. Women used them while shopping and safety !


  8. In the UK Tyrolean and other European folk motifs were very poular throughtout the mid to late 1930s probably due to the fact that more people went on skiing holidays. Knitwear too in ‘peasant’ styles was very popular. Vienna was a big knitwear centre.
    Skiing holidays in the Bavarian alps were still being advertised in magazines at the end of 1938.


  9. This is beyond amazing! And, yes, I couldn’t bring myself to call that a fanny pack either.


  10. seweverythingblog

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s so much cuter than the “fanny packs” of late. I have a McCall’s magazine from 1966 where I found a shot of a very young Lauren Hutton sporting an emerald green, very tailored leather waist bag; it was attached to a gold chain belt. Chic!


  11. Speaking of Lanz… Chatted with a friend tonight who mentioned The Vermont Country Store in a different context, and decided to take a quick glance around. Up popped Lanz, and with more than nightgowns! See: http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/store/jump/Specialty_Shops/Lanz_of_Salzburg/cat1010068


  12. Pingback: White Stag Tyrolean Style Jacket | The Vintage Traveler

  13. Pingback: Vintage Miscellany – Decamber 10, 2017 | The Vintage Traveler

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