A fascinating short piece and video on Scroll.
The difference between men and women in terms of consumption and sartorial patterns is always puzzling. The marketing industry thrives on this very idea of trying to differentiate as many items between men and women. From starting obvious things like clothes now we have cornflakes, milk drinks etc which are sold seperately for women.
Within clothes, one puzzle always is why women clothes do not have pockets?
The lack of pockets in women’s clothing has been a universal concern for decades.
“Women have from time to time carried bags, sometimes sewn in, sometimes tied on, sometimes brandished in the hand, but a bag is not a pocket,” wrote Charlotte P Gilman for The New York Times in 1905. “One supremacy there is in men’s clothing… its adaptation to pockets.”
Gilmann was writing at a time when pockets were stitched on to women’s clothing in the US – this change ran parallel to the suffragette movement. Working women had started asserting their freedom to wear trousers and suits (which were worn almost exclusively by men) to symbolise gender parity.
Indians, meanwhile, were far from realising the sartorial bias of pocket-free clothing. This is because the British followed the Victorian style of clothing – trousers with pockets for men, and voluminous, inconvenient skirts with petticoats for women.
The video above shows how the colonial legacy created the model for Indian clothing in the years to come – eventually, women devised their own pockets in traditional outfits – for instance, by tucking valuables into their blouses.
It also led to demand for purses/handbags. Handbags were substitutes for pockets.
Even after pockets became available to women through trousers in the late 20th century, the garment industry imposed yet another barrier called “fake” pockets.
Perhaps, the only neutral element that has been able to steer forward this debate are the ever-growing size of cell phones. While this has prompted some designers to respond to women’s needs in Western and Indian clothing, a majority of garments continue to focus on the beauty of pockets, not their utility.
Hmm..All this is so interesting: evolution of consumer trends..