The One Pocket Manifesto

Adam Grice is Senior Technician for Graphics, Web and Film at the Fashion & Textiles Institute.

I’ve always been fascinated by pockets…

Deriving their name from the Norman diminutive of the Old French word ‘Poke’ (the modern French word is poche) a pocket is a bag or envelope-like receptacle either fastened to or inserted into an article of clothing to hold small items. One also finds them attached to luggage, satchels and similar.

With origins shrouded in the mists of time (the oldest known European mummy – circa 3,300 BC was discovered on the border between Austria and Italy with a pouch sewn to his belt) the full extent of the pocket’s history is as much a mystery as what might be contained within…

Over time the separate bag or pouch has been incorporated into our garments and our collective consciousness. In European clothing they have evolved from the ‘fitchets’ of the 13th century (a slit in a garment designed to give easy access to a purse or keys kept safe within), to pouches worn like a purse on a belt under an overcoat or tunic to deter thieves.

In modern apparel we enjoy watch pockets, patch pockets, flap pockets, welt pockets, jetted pockets, inset pockets, bellows pockets, waterproof pockets to name but a few.

Mixed Pockets

The simplicity, the versatility, the practical, utilitarian functionality of the pocket is a thing of wonder. Who among us has not squirreled away a handful of loose change, pocketed a bunch of keys or deposited a keepsake in a garment cavity?

Button up, zip, Velcro patch, fur lined, inner, outer, false or hidden… they come in all shapes and sizes…

…and the name itself has become a prefix synonymous with portability, the pocket watch, the pocket knife or the pocket dictionary for example.

Metaphorically they have come to be associated with financial means and generosity of spirit, we all know of a few people with deep pockets. And a few others who like to help themselves to something, lining their pockets as the saying goes, not to mention the only pocket based trade (apart from the tailor) … the pick pocket.

Empty Pockets

Asda famously employed the ‘pocket pat’ to encourage us all to save money ever since it appeared on our screens in 1977, named by retail week as one of the most memorable advertising campaigns of the last 25 years….

Thats Asda Price Pockets

Who hasn’t enjoyed an evening on the baize of the local snooker hall at one time or another – 8 ball centre pocket?

Snooker balls

Pocket money, pitta pockets, pocket pairs (that’s a reference for the poker players out there..), pockets of air, pockets of resistance?

….and while we are at it … what about somewhere to put your hands when they’re not doing anything else…?

Jean Shorts Pocket

But I digress. I’d really like to use this blog to take the opportunity to make a call to arms across the internets to the next generation of fashion professionals…

My proposition is this… the One Pocket Manifesto…

Pink Pocket

Let me explain.

As a younger man I embraced the possibilities presented by a myriad of cloth capsules about my person. The pocket seemed to have a place for any and every trinket, tool, travel card or trapping I could ever imagine. I could carry what I needed with me without the additional weight or potential hazard of misplacing a bag or other carry-all.

I was so enamored with the mobile clothes hole I even created an infographic denoting what each garment compartment in my outfit might be used for.

Not to mention the barbershop quartet I performed and toured North East London with in the early years of this 20th century – the Pocket Trio…

I was youthful, I was enthusiastic…. I was foolish.

I fell in love with a dark future of utility and portability, of transport and accessibility. I dreamed of having all I needed, right here, right now, about my person, at my fingertips.


More recently I was wooed by the likes of Errolson Hugh (of Acronym®) and his multi-faceted, multi pocketed technical apparel (<3<3<3) but then it hit me like a pocket sized thunderclap!

…and now it’s going to hit you too!

Think on this.

Think on all those times you in your life have needed to get something out of your pockets.

Think back through each and every occasion that you arrived at your front door and rummaged for your keys. Or searched for your purse or wallet at the grocery check-out. Or heard your phone ringing from somewhere about yourself.

When I think back over the time I have spent searching my finery for my ornaments, the minutes run into hours, the hours into days. It’s very possible I have spent weeks, maybe even months shaking myself down, hunting for a nugget with which to board the autobus or a cigarette lighter to ignite my passion!

Think then if you dare, how much time we, the teeming mass of humanity, have lost, have been robbed of in totality since the inception of the multi pocket garment ensemble!

So much we could have accomplished…

So much wasted…

So many dreams left by the wayside like so much lint…

But there is another way!

As fashion designers, as protagonists of the future of accoutrement we have the power to bring an end to this madness.

And so I call on you, the architects of the apertures of tomorrow’s apparel –

EMBRACE THE ONE POCKET MANIFESTO: One outfit / One pocket / One love!


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