A curved peak baseball cap sits above an oversized graphic tee, which has been tucked messily into the waistband of a pair of loose-fitting, stonewash jeans. Below these are a pair of tightly-laced, bulky trainers; the sort your secondary school gym teacher used to wear morning, noon and night. And, to top it all off, the obligatory bum bag (aka fanny pack).
There was a time not long ago when such an outfit was universally recognised as the classic ‘American dad goes sightseeing in a European city’ uniform. However thanks to fashion’s ongoing quest to appropriate literally everything, it could now just as easily be describing the most talked-about look at a Paris Fashion Week haute couture runway show.
But there’s one key detail that has changed. Bum bags have crept up north of the waistline in a thinly-veiled attempt to cast off their embarrassing title. And it worked. Cross-body bags, as they’re now known, are one of the hottest trends to have emerged from streetwear’s ever-tightening stranglehold on high fashion and if you don’t already have one, those in the know advise that it’s probably time to pick one up.
“The cross-body bag trend derived from the blur between menswear and womenswear,” says Notion Magazine fashion coordinator, Joshua Meredith. “Rappers also drove the trend. However, to them it’s better known as a ‘road man bag’. A$AP Rocky and Skepta favour the style and have been instrumental in bringing it into the mainstream.”
When it comes to styling, Meredith suggests keeping things bright or finding other ways to add a point of difference. “A bold colour or print elevates an outfit and adds an extra layer. Also, source vintage designer before going straight for the latest season – it makes the outfit more personal and unique.”
Ready to saddle up? Here are some of the best ways to spend your money.
The North Face
Okay, so a cross-body bag probably isn’t the most practical type of luggage for hauling breathing apparatus and tents up the side of a snow-covered cliff face in the Himalayas. But if you were going to use one for that, you’d probably still opt for The North Face.
The brand’s bags have become the gold standard for everyone from hardened mountaineers to South-London roadmen. And with a customer base that diverse it must be doing something right.
In between making high-performance sportswear and the best retro sneakers ever to walk the Earth, Nike has somehow found the time to churn out some of the most popular cross-body bags going.
Pricing is reasonable, designs are classic, and aside from that, you can expect subtle swoosh branding aplenty and sleek, sporty styling as standard.
In the bag game since the 1950s, Bostonian backpack brand Eastpak knows a thing or two about what makes a good receptacle.
Designs are simple and uncluttered, with practicality at the fore. Meanwhile, branding is subtle, and construction is damn near bulletproof, resulting in timeless luggage you can keep going back to season after season.
Looking for an eco-friendly bag to stuff your granola bar and spare Hacky Sack in for a hectic day slacklining shirtless in the park? Sustainable outdoor label Patagonia has what you need.
The brand is known for creating hard-wearing kit for adventurers, while also saving the planet by using recycled and organic materials, meaning you can feel good about rocking one of its practical yet stylish cross-body bags wherever you go.
The label of choice for everyone from Olympic athletes to hip-hop heroes, German sportswear giant Adidas is about as iconic as names get.
Now, with the current wave of logomania showing no sign of slowing down, the famous trefoil motif is more relevant than ever before, making the brand with the three stripes a solid choice when it comes to selecting some trend-led luggage.
On paper, making denim overalls for redneck car mechanics doesn’t seem like a natural jumping off point for going on to create some of the finest streetwear in Europe, but that’s exactly what Carhartt did, and we certainly aren’t complaining.
Come for the streetwear styling, stay for the rugged quality. It’s all in a day’s work for the brand’s cross-body bags.
It’s funny to think that many of the streetwear-influenced looks being paraded down runways wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for a Californian surfer and his T-shirt brand.
Stussy is the granddaddy of the streetwear world, and as such, does it better than most. Opt for one of its cross-body bags and watch your street cred inflate like a beach ball right before your eyes.
At a century old, Champion is one of the oldest sporting goods companies in the world, so it should be no surprise that it’s gotten pretty good at its craft.
From reverse weave hoodies to canvas cross-body bags, Champion’s products are famously well built. Don’t just take our word for it though. Get shopping and find out for yourself.
This whole ‘streetwear meets high fashion’ crossover thing is all well and good, but it’s not exactly easy on the ol’ wallet, is it?
Thankfully, there’s a solution: ASOS. The online retailer carries all the latest trend-led pieces –including cross-body bags – as part of its in-house brand and brings them to style-savvy customers with convenience and value for money in mind.
Whatever you’re after, you can always count on Swedish high street stalwart H&M to give it to you for a sensible price.
The retailer is known not just for its selection of wardrobe-building menswear staples, but also for its ever-changing rotation of trend-driven products, of which cross-body bags are now a part.
If the idea of spending significant amounts of cash on a bag you can’t even fit a water bottle in makes you feel slightly ill, may we kindly advise you to avert your eyes now.
Luxury Italian label Gucci isn’t exactly known for its bargain prices, but then again this level of quality and, let’s face it, fashion cred, was never going to come cheap. So, for some of the most coveted cross-body bags on the market, Gucci is the brand to choose.
Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny Virgil Abloh is redefining fashion by doing things strictly on his terms.
His label Off-White is one of the imprints spearheading streetwear’s siege on high fashion and has been instrumental in changing the face of modern style. With that in mind, where better to spend your hard-earned cash?
The undisputed king of high-end luggage, Louis Vuitton’s famous monogram print has become a universally recognised symbol of luxury, whether it’s stamped onto a leather trunk or a cross-body bag.
Expect full-grain leather construction, shiny golden brass hardware and attention to detail that comes second to none.