“Why do my clothes don’t have a pocket??”
It is a fair assumption that more women have pondered this question in frustration more times than men. Pockets have always been a functional addition to apparel, and the design world has prioritized functionality over aesthetics in men’s clothing but seldom in clothing for women. Why would that be?
Think about it, here we have an industry that is so focused on women, as models, creators, and primary buyers, and yet it consistently overlooks what a woman might need, the designs always cater to and reflect an external gaze. The designs seem to prioritize what a viewer is seeing over the wearer and what she might need. History and our conditioning dictate why that could be. Up until recently everything a woman wore was to either please ‘civilized’ society or the gaze of a man, whether it was corsets or innumerable rules around what is ‘appropriate for a lady’, women’s clothing has been tightly bound by external factors. These factors over the years made such clothing ridiculous and impractical. With the increased presence of women in the public space and the working woman taking her place where she belongs, it is high time the design world relooks at what is important.
The utility of pockets is tremendous and instinctive, so much so that most wouldn’t even stop to think about what it adds to your clothing till you don’t have it. Imagine a man and a woman walking into a meeting, the woman has her hands full with the little things she doesn’t have a pocket to keep and the man sweeps everything in his pockets, literally and metaphorically. It is a given expectation that a woman will carry a purse and so the necessity of a pocket is not given a second thought. It is however a powerful element, defining to a great extent. In the above scenario imagine if the woman had a pocket too, it would at least level the field, make her seem as put together as the man, and probably in a better place to be taken as seriously. It is the little things that shape the perception of a person, especially in the contemporary workspace. So it is time we question why is it that women end up with fake pockets and too much stuff in their hands, still.
Fake pockets are an absolute insult, it shows how much of the focus is on the visual appeal of clothing alone, as opposed to helping people live a simpler life. Though, if considered seriously fake pockets can also be a great example to show who women’s clothes are actually designed for: the viewer. The designs are optimized not for the woman but for an external gaze, often a man’s, to fit and please someone else’s view of her. Whereas clothing for men, reflects utility, with one, two, sometimes even five to six pockets.
The good part is with designers who look at design as more than a tool for creation, but as a tool for problem-solving, slowly the industry has started thinking about these elements as crucial. The creators who care about how their product impacts the world, society, and the planet are slowly honing their designs as a solution to change more than what we wear, but also how we think. Every choice starting from the concept, the design, the raw materials, and the manufacturing process adds up to define how a garment will impact the world in the long run. It is important for both the designer and the consumer to ask questions, to rethink, to relearn, to consider the true value of something as compared to a momentary passing trend.