You’re probably familiar with pocket books, those compact paperbacks you can conveniently carry with you wherever you go.
But what about a book that’s actually about pockets?
Three University of Delaware faculty members who specialize in
fashion and apparel studies have come up with one, after seeing a need
for a comprehensive handbook for students and other designers who
previously lacked the specific tools needed to help them construct
garments with a wide variety of both functional and fashionable pockets.
The result is The Book of Pockets: A Practical Guide for Fashion Designers, published in 2019 by Bloomsbury Visual Arts and now being used in classrooms around the world.
The 208-page book is filled with photos, illustrations, construction
tutorials, interviews with famous designers and industry professionals,
and samples of work by students at UD and other universities. It has
been added to the curriculum in fashion design courses at numerous
schools, including the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and
Leeds Arts University in England, and Bloomsbury recently partnered with
China Textile and Apparel Press to develop a Chinese-language edition.
In Amsterdam, fashion design students created sample pockets that
were added to a display of the book in a store window near their school.
The project began more than four years ago with an offhand remark by Adriana Gorea, assistant professor of fashion and apparel studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“In class, we talk about collars and pockets and other design
features, but when the students were interested in pockets, I realized
that there was really no resource for them,” Gorea said. “I was in my
office thinking about this, and I said out loud, ‘There should be a book
just about pockets.’ ”
From next door, Martha Hall, then a faculty member in the fashion
department and now the director of innovation for the College of Health
Sciences, called out: “Then you should write it.”
The two wrote a book proposal and began work, but Hall’s involvement
was limited when her faculty appointment changed. Most of the book was
then written by Gorea and Katya Roelse, instructor in fashion and
apparel studies, who, in addition to her part of the research, writing
and photography, also contributed some 200 illustrations.
The two worked in tandem to show students in detail how to design and
make various pockets. Gorea would construct a pocket, taking photos of
each step, and Roelse would translate the photos into illustrations.
They wrote sewing and assembly instructions for the work as well, and
later created videos showing the design process, all included in the book itself.
“Every picture, every illustration, tells a story,” Gorea said. “You
really want to explain the construction in a way that students can
understand and follow.”
With so many visual elements, Roelse noted that the book required
more — and more varied — work than many authors might anticipate.
“The content is one thing, but the photography, the illustrations,
the technology we had to incorporate … It was really a massive project,”
The book begins with chapters on fashion history and cultural dress
and continues with examples of pockets in everything from jeans and
cargo pants to couture designs. It includes examples from various
costume collections, along with market-bought samples and images
supplied by various designers and brands. Activewear and sports uniforms
are featured with their special requirements such as the large inside
pockets that hold pads to protect football players’ thighs.
“The more we got into this subject, the more potential we saw,”
Roelse said. “Pockets are functional as well as attractive, and fashion
is becoming more functional and more sustainable all the time. You
really want your garments to be practical and to last a long time.”
There are other, possibly less obvious, needs for pockets, the authors said.
Gorea, who previously worked with Adidas Wearable Sports Electronics,
noted that pockets are critical in wearable-technology garments such as
heart-monitoring sports bras, which are designed to hold an embedded
heart monitor or other body metrics device.
“Everything in wearable tech relies on pockets,” she said. “And, as
with activewear, they have to be waterproof and flexible and have many
other requirements. I think this book could be just the tip of the
iceberg in terms of work that could be done on this subject.”