When a comics star Sarah Andersen posted her latest webcomic about fashion, her Facebook page exploded with comments from women who could totally relate as they looked at the increasing frustration of the Sarah’s Scribbles‘ character. The number of comments is nearing 3,000, and in many of them women are demanding that the fashion industry caters for their desire for pockets.
This is not unique to Sarah Andersen’s millennial fan base. Throughout the years, women have demanded to include pockets in women’s garments both in niche forums and on mainstream media. Why hasn’t the fashion industry paid attention?
Even in leisure clothing, women’s pockets are useless and decorative
A prominent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is cited in most of the recent reporting on the problem. As the website of the exhibition states, external pockets, worn between multiple layers of clothing and accessed through gaps in seams of a petticoat, accompanied inflated, multi-layered skirts. Women carried their money, jewellery, handkerchiefs and even food. When these garments gave way to loose-hanging dresses, pockets suddenly became unwelcome, and women started carrying small purses. Not carrying one’s money and other things along became a status symbol.
If he can use his pockets, why can’t she?
With women’s liberation movement, pockets became a symbol of independence. As a gallery in The Guardian shows, they were not uncommon in the 1930s, and Coco Chanel is said to have been a proponent. However, soon after WW2, the emphasis on so-called figure-hugging clothes returned, and until today women struggle to find jeans and other clothing items that fit all the stuff they need while keeping their hands free. Some attribute this trend to a conspiracy between clothing and handbag producers.
Although mass producers still fail to make sense of this trend, niche designers are more than happy to embrace this growing consumer trend. The first result that pops up if you google ‘fashion with pockets’ is the brand Poche Posh, which builds its entire identity around the presence of pockets in every single clothing item. Given the enthusiasm women are happy to award to designers who give them pockets, bringing back this useful addition looks like a no-brainer. But is the new awareness of consumers’ needs becoming a trend any time soon?