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.