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the belt bag that changed my mind about belt bags

December 29, 2021

the belt bag that changed my mind about belt bags

think belt bags are not your thing? that was me — and i’m a bag designer! then i got my sketch pad out one day, noodled and doodled on it for a while, and voila! i ended up designing my own belt bag: the arcade. 

like you, i’ve see what’s out there — it ranges from ‘too tiny and too precious’ to ‘what were they thinking’? what is it with designers’ fascination with the mini belt bag? nonsense. from Gucci and Prada to Adidas and Lululemon, they are all touting versions of the belt bag. i designed the arcade to be more sophisticated, softer, lighter, more practical and more grownup, so you can zip up the essentials you need while freeing up your hands in style. if you think a belt bag has no place in your life, you may be surprised. the arcade is creating belt bag converts! 

what should you call it? 

you can call it what you like — and there are plenty of names to choose from for this style of bag: fanny pack, bum bag, hip pack, hip bag, waist pouch, waist bag, waist pack, waist belt, sling bag, etc. i prefer belt bag. no matter what you call it, if you’ve looked around you know that designs for this type of bag vary widely, from more belt than bag to uncomfortable designer torture device. i’m going to tell you why i designed the arcade belt bag to look stylish while also being extremely functional.

free your hands, hold your essentials! 

there’s a good reason people are snapping up belt bags right now: they make sense! i designed the arcade for times when you need to zip up just essentials when you’re on the go but also need your hands freed up. our days are busy and this style of bag serves another purpose as well: accessibility.

the arcade is a sleek, lightweight, organized belt bag with classic new york style and a relaxed, luxe sophistication. it’s truly a unisex style, so you can think of it as a women’s belt bag, a men’s belt bag, an everyone’s belt bag. measuring 5.5" h x 13" w x 2", it’s neither too much bag nor too little bag — it intentionally fits only what you absolutely need, to keep you unfettered but ultimately prepared. within in the shortyLOVE collection, the arcade belt bag is larger and holds more than the shorthand phone crossbody bag but smaller in capacity than the amuse crossbody bag. 

hands-free is the only way to be! 

shortyLOVE arcade owners never cease to amaze me with the ways they choose to wear their bags. they’re all so clever! they tell me they wear the arcade for dog walks (great for tucking poo bags into), for visiting the farmer’s market and grocery store (hands-free shopping), for bike rides and hikes (you need your hands!), for daytrips around their own city or someplace they’re visiting (bonus: easy to pack into your luggage), while gardening so their phone is on them (listen to your podcast), for concerts and music festivals (perfect for dancing + keeping your valuables close to you), and for meetups with friends at a restaurant or club (dine/drink hands-free). some like to strap on the arcade for air travel so their credentials and credit card are easily accessible (perfect for wearing as your wallet). and several have told me they bought the black arcade specifically for formal dress occasions so they’d never leave their bag behind again, unlike a shoulder bag they tend to take off and set on a chair. see, smart! 

wear it two ways 

so many fanny packs are only intended to go around your waist. but i love bags that give me options, don’t you? the arcade is a convertible belt bag, meaning you’re not locked into wearing it just one way. you can wear it as a belt bag (around your waist) or as a sporty crossbody sling bag (bandalero style). some arcade owners tell me they like to sling it on with the pockets in front and others prefer to sling it on with the pockets in back, out of their way. 

if you’re wandering the shops or taking the subway, you might want the pockets in front where you can unzip and grab your wallet or lip balm easily. but if you’re on a bike ride, maybe you want the pockets behind you, backpack style. it’s up to you and whatever’s going on with your day! i designed the adjustable webbing belt strap to extend to a generous 23.5”, so you can cinch for a comfortable fit around your waist or across your torso. the silky soft, woven nylon was selected to be easy on your clothing, not dig into your hip or shoulder, and to be kind to your sweaters and clothing that can pull or pill. for me, comfort is key, whether you’re wearing the arcade with a t-shirt or at a dressy evening outfit. 

two zippered pockets! 

unlike most belt bags, the arcade is designed with two separate compartments to keep your stuff accessible and organized. after all, even in a smaller bag you don’t want to have to dig to find what you’re looking for. the compartments consist of two exterior zip pockets, one in front and one close to the body. ideal for keeping just the essentials handy, the arcade holds smaller items like your phone, wallet, train pass, earbuds and lip gloss at the ready. the zippered compartments measure a generous 13” across. when i strap on my arcade i’m still always surprised at how much actually fits in there!

better materials 

want to know how to create a better, more sophisticated belt bag? start with the materials that go into creating it, and make them better and more sophisticated. hardware is an important, statement-making detail, so i made sure that the buckle that clasps the belt ends of the arcade around you is a real head-turner — substantial without being clunky, with a high-end polish that makes it stand out. 

i added sturdy, oversized metal zippers on the pockets and finished them off with stylish, waxed cotton cord pulls. our water-resistant nylon twill is fabricated to look and feel like the high-end italian fabrics used in big-name designer brands: durable but with a wearable, soft drape and feminine aesthetic. and because one of my pet peeves is having to dig for things at the bottom of my bag, i crafted the lining using a luxurious, silky to the touch blush nylon — selected because a lighter shade interior allows you to quickly spot what you’re looking for in your arcade. 

made for real life 

the body of the arcade is not just attractive but soft and plush. it molds itself to your body. i’ve seen too many unforgiving canvas "athleisure" fanny packs, too many stiff, boxy leather belt bags and faux leather bum bags, too many hip packs made of cheap, flimsy ripstop. the arcade is crafted of high-quality nylon with structured internal padding to hold the shape and add to the soft, plush, almost quilted feel. i want it to be a joy, not a chore, to throw on your arcade and head out! shortyLOVE bags are not the kind of women’s handbags that need to be babied. i designed my the arcade belt bag to be comfortably worn all day every day, by real people who live real lives and long for practicality combined with style.

i got my start designing women’s handbags at marc jacobs. from shoulder bags to crossbody bags, from tote bag to hobo bags, from satchels to backpacks, from travel bags to messenger bags, over the years, i learned that durability is a must when it comes to designing bags for women for use on a daily basis. most of us want to invest in something that lasts when shopping for a handbag — including me. that’s why i thought it was essential to add a circular stitch detail at the pressure points for more strength where the strap meets the body of the bag. those are the spots where wear and tear happens the most when it comes to your typical belt bag. happy i could finally solve that for you! 

upkeep is another thing i insist on simplifying when it comes to handbags. nobody wants a bag that’s impossible to keep clean — including me. keeping the arcade looking fresh and cute is easy: just spot clean with mild detergent and water, then air dry. let’s keep it simple.

where did the name come from?

the backstory of the arcade’s name is one of nostalgia. summers on the jersey shore were all about riding our bikes to the penny arcade when i was growing up. inside, the boss would be blaring in the background. the rows of videogame machines chiming and dinging and making their own deafening, musical ruckus. and at the center of it all was the change man dispensing the coins you needed to play the games from the money belt around his waist. i still think of those times fondly. hence, the arcade!

— xo sloane

sloane gibney grossberg is the founder of and sole designer for shortyLOVE. a jersey girl always and forever, she’s devoted to her husband and two children, stays close to her sisters, walks her dogs daily, falls hard for a smarter bag, and feels very fortunate to design them for a living. 
sloane got her start as senior designer for the marc jacobs collection in 2002, moving up three years later to take the creative reins of marc by marc jacobs handbags and accessories for a decade. noting an unmet demand for stylish bags that could help streamline busy days, she launched shortyLOVE in 2018.