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  • Writer's pictureEmily Keller

The Lack of Pockets in Women's Fashion

I was interviewed on Kasia's YouTube channel to talk about pockets (or the lack of) in women's clothing, especially fast fashion.

This is quite a hot topic in women's fashion. Clothes with no pockets, fake pockets, or pockets so small they're not functional.

Check out the video here! ➡️

I answer some good questions like:

1 - Why is there a lack of pockets in fast fashion?

In my experience it really comes down to budget. Pockets cost money. In fast fashion especially, it’s a race to the bottom for the brands. Who can produce the absolute cheapest clothes? Because that’s what has sold well for so long. So functional details and quality materials are slowly chipped away at, to achieve a target price for a certain style. Pockets are definitely a common feature that get eliminated when reducing price.

2 - From a design perspective, what are the challenges of designing clothes with pockets?

From a design perspective, no, there aren’t any serious obstacles to prevent us from designing clothing with big pockets.

It is true that a big pocket in skinny jeans would look a little strange maybe. It can be very true for fast fashion, as the fabric used tends to be low quality and thin, which allows the outline of the pocket bag underneath to be visible. And definitely if you put items inside the pocket, you would have a very intricate bulge protruding off of your body.

Simple revision would be to use a higher quality, thicker fabric, and to make the fit form fitting, but not necessarily skin tight. That’s one way to simply design pants with pockets for example.

3 - Why do men's fast fashion items seem to have pockets, while women's don't?

I will say, men’s clothing tends to be more timeless. Limited styles, fabrics and colors. Women’s clothing tends to have more options of styles, fabrics, and colors. For women’s clothing, more money tends to be spent on design development, sourcing, and sampling. For a brand to produce new styles every few months, that costs money to develop those styles.

Men’s clothing, they can just repeat a timeless style, in the same fabric, and the same colors as before. Men’s clothing can save more money on design development, and allocate that money towards other things, like higher quality fabric and labor to produce the garments.

4 - What do you think of the purse lobby, and is it true?

I’m sure there very well are people out there that want to sell more handbags and think that pockets in clothing will decrease their sales.

I personally haven’t come across this as a designer. No one has ever told me to design something without pockets because we want more handbag sales. Or even within a company, I’ve never heard of the accessories department telling the apparel department to design clothes without pockets to sell bags.

I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen it.

5 - The reactions and opinions on pockets in fashion tend to be very polarized. Where do you stand on this issue?

I do think it’s a bigger issue. Even in my daily life, I constantly find myself wishing I had bigger pockets to fit my keys, and my phone, my facemask, chapstick, etc. Sometimes I just want to go outside, no purse, hands free.

I don't have a strong opinion either way, because on one hand, I understand the frustration of having clothes with fake pockets, or no pockets at all. It is kind of ridiculous. But on the other hand, I also understand the business side of it, and brands choosing to cut costs just to stay in business. At the end of the day, they have to be profitable. And if it's too expensive to make clothes with pockets, then that's what they need to do.

6 - Would complaints be taken seriously? Could we get fashion brands to change this and start creating women's clothes with sufficiently-sized pockets?

Yes, I definitely think so. At the end of the day, the fashion industry is a business that wants to make a profit. If they see that pants with big pockets is what’s selling, they’ll start producing more pants with big pockets. Because that’s profit.

Be thoughtful about what kind of clothing you spend your money on. Businesses will see that and respond to that.

And if you can't find big pockets in women's clothes, start buying men's clothes! Brands are watching what you wear, and taking note all the time. If enough people start wearing clothes with big pockets, brands will produce women's clothes with big pockets!

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