Rock bottom: Glastonbury makes it the year of the bumbag

Festivalgoers sport the once maligned accessory, which shows ugly-pretty chic has reached critical mass

It is most definitely the year of the bumbag, if Glastonbury festivalgoers are anything to go by at least.

There are so many bumbags here: canvas ones covered in Gucci logos; neon pink ones shimmering with sequins; sleek leather ones and practical hi-tech ones; iridescent metallic ones slung over shoulders like holsters.

That once-maligned accessory, with its associations of paranoid tourists keeping their wallets where they can see them, is having such a moment that the crowd at the Pyramid stage looks like a Mr Motivator convention.

The rise of the bumbag is indicative of a broader fashion learning from Pilton: that ugly-pretty chic has reached critical mass. That is, the kind of awkward high-concept designs spearheaded by the likes of Miuccia Prada on the catwalk – hiking gear as a fashion consideration; the anorak as a hero item as seen also at Balenciaga; the rise of clothes which invite their wearer to look beyond mere glamour and challenge their preconceptions – have made it to Worthy Farm, Somerset.

So at Glastonbury, the looks that would win a place on best-dressed lists are not obviously pretty or flattering. They are the men and women in Carhartt boilersuits made of stiff, dark denim, or those pairing geeky cargo shorts with a plain black T-shirt and this season’s beat-up, greying Reebok Club C trainer.

A glittery festivalgoer watches Kris Kristofferson.
A glittery festivalgoer watches Kris Kristofferson. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

The high fashion aware are just a small subsection of the crowd, however, with the dominant aesthetic being less subtle and far more attention-grabbing. If you climb the ribbon tower on the Park stage and look down at the crowd you will see a sea of people who glitter and shine. There are sequins and glitter everywhere – tiny shimmers stuck on chests and cheekbones and combed into beards, expanses on full-length coats fashioned from large palette sequins.

Many of the looks at the festival appear to have been brainstormed in advance in the interests of getting likes on Instagram. In some sections of the farm it feels, quite literally, as though the internet has come to life, so directly are its tropes and memes replicated.

There are girls wearing Frida Khalo-esqe flower crowns that seem to have been inspired by Snapchat filters; there are boys dressing up as emoji, wearing unicorn horns and flamenco sunglasses.

Flowery festivalgoers in full bloom.
Flowery festivalgoers in full bloom. Photograph: Smiejkowska/Rex/Shutterstock

There is a proliferation of T-shirts with socially conscious or ironically referential slogans – Katharine Hamnett’s famous Choose Life T-shirt has become Choose NHS; the famous black and white Sonic Youth T-shirt becomes Islamic Youth; people are wearing the National Rail logos and Corbyn with a Nike swoosh on their chests. These are multilayered internet culture jokes come to life. People are like walking Instagram posts, wearing their own captions.

There is a final strain of Glastonbury fashion that also comes straight from the web: a tribe of mainly young women who have drawn from the Gigi Hadid/Kendall Jenner/Coachella school of dressing, wearing crop tops and bralettes to the festival.

Club tropicana: men in Snapchat-inspired pineapple sunglasses.
Club tropicana: men in Snapchat-inspired pineapple sunglasses. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

What that means is a lot of body on show – abs out, thighs bare in very short shorts. So polished are this tribe – so precisely do their outfits appear to have been planned, so inexplicably clean is their hair – that they almost make you feel nostalgic for the festival fashion of the noughties, when its ultimate icons, Kate Moss in mud-splattered Hunters or Alexa Chung in a Barbour jacket, at least occasionally wore clothes large enough to have pockets in which they might conceivably have kept a wet wipe.

We know where people are keeping their wet wipes this year, of course – whether they are the high fashion anorak-wearers or the glitter-covered Snapchat kids or the abs-baring Hadid disciples. They are kept in the one accessory that unites them all: their bumbags.

Emoji chic.
Emoji chic. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images


Hannah Marriott

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Festival fashion tips 2017: bumbags, gorpcore – and Corbyn T-shirts
With only days until Glastonbury begins, this year’s trend is likely to practical clothes with a hint of progressive politics

Morwenna Ferrier

18, Jun, 2017 @6:59 AM

Article image
Sorry, poncey fashionistas – you can wear what you like at Glastonbury
You don’t need instructions on how to dress when in search of freedom. Throwaway fashion is sullying what’s left of the festival spirit

Michele Hanson

19, Jun, 2017 @1:19 PM

Article image
Glastonbury 2014: festival fashion – the best looks

Lauren Cochrane discovers what the fashionable festivalgoer is wearing this year, and whether Dolly Parton or Metallica is the main style muse

Lauren Cochrane

29, Jun, 2014 @2:05 PM

Article image
The ultimate Glastonbury style guide: from denim cut-offs to disco sequins
Never mind the weather. When creating your festival fashion statement, it’s all about where you choose to hang out. Here’s our stage-by-stage breakdown

Jess Cartner-Morley

23, Jun, 2015 @5:12 PM

Article image
Glastonbury isn’t about looking ‘on trend’ – it’s about survival
Forget festival fashion. In her weekly advice column, our style sage says dry shampoo and wellies are all you need when you’re covered in mud and dancing at three in the morning

Hadley Freeman

19, Jun, 2017 @2:35 PM

Article image
Two-thirds of Pink Floyd raise prospect of playing Glastonbury
Only Dave Gilmour, with whom Roger Waters has a poor relationship, was missing from a press conference at the V&A

Mark Brown , Arts correspondent

16, Feb, 2017 @7:32 PM

Article image
Katy Perry among 86 artists announced for Glastonbury 2017
Pop superstar joins Solange, Barry Gibb, the xx, Biffy Clyro, Stormzy and the Jacksons down on Worthy Farm

Michael Hann

30, Mar, 2017 @7:01 AM

Article image
Ed Sheeran to headline Sunday night at Glastonbury 2017
The acoustic superstar joins Radiohead and Foo Fighters as this year’s Pyramid stage headliners

Michael Hann

16, Mar, 2017 @4:58 PM

Article image
Radiohead are confirmed as first headliners for Glastonbury 2017
Band to make their first Pyramid stage appearance at Worthy Farm since 2003

Michael Hann

20, Oct, 2016 @12:51 PM

Article image
Glastonbury festival will move home in 2019 – as The Variety Bazaar
Festival founder Michael Eavis reveals future event will shift ‘halfway to the Midlands’ and go by different name before returning to normality in 2020

Guardian music

17, Jan, 2017 @5:11 PM