Skip to content

My Pockets My Space

February 27, 2017


I’m off to London on Monday to attend the “Craft of Use” event organized by Kate Fletcher and hosted by The Centre for Sustainable fashion at the London College of Fashion.  Some of my ongoing work on pockets will be on show at the event which was commissioned by Local Wisdom, a project of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. .

Here is a link to the video ‘my pockets my space….’

The project’s aim is to investigate ideas and practices which enhance the quality and satisfaction of fashion provision and expression in an age alert to resource scarcity and climate crisis. (Fletcher, K. 2013)


Pockets and the use of them has not really changed that much in 200 years. The pocket started out as an attachable appendage, usually worn inside garments and close to the body. Our pockets have shape-changed, from a simple receptacles into pockets which are attached to clothing, bum bags, utilitarian cargo pockets, pocket bags or hand bags and purses… What is contained within a pocket, remains firmly in the realm of daily human living. What has changed however, is the actual pocket itself- the container. WE LOVE POCKETS!  



As the Craft of Use looks at use practices associated with clothing, I gathered up a small group of people and we found ‘pick your pocket’ a home for a day in London at the georgous Here Today Here tomorrow shop in Dalston.

Here we unpicked poked, prised open and transformed people’s pockets into the pockets they’ve always desired.

We recorded and listened to stories about people’s pockets, the many mixed emotions attached to pocket use, and the role they play in our lives, both today and in the past.  The true transformation of any garment it seems often starts with a pocket overhaul…A sense of  euphoria  descended on the room as pockets were overhauled from small use-less pockets to perfectly shaped use –full pockets. Pockets were added, extended, mended and garments were re-appreciated. In fact satisfaction levels were pretty high all thanks to the humble pocket.

If we look back at how pockets were used in the past we see that a look inside any pocket from the mid 1700’s to the present day, would hold the stuff needed for everyday living, and also betray our innermost secrets! Tie-on pockets came into use to replace the use of girdles worn outside the skirt and hung with small tools sometime in the 17th century . Pockets have always played a quietly significant part in the lives of women who did not have the same social standing as men, and therefore had very little privacy. Women’s pockets held the paraphernalia of their daily round of household and family life giving us insights into their work, leisure and status. Items related to sewing, thread, thimbles, pins and needles, as well as items such as buttons and buckles, were sometimes carried in a rolled-up holder known as a ‘huswif’, a corruption of ‘housewife’. Also carried were nutmeg graters, little boxes for snuff, sweets and medicines, watches, pocket combs and mirrors, tweezers and ear-picks, perfume, simple cosmetics and balms, as well as prayer books, glasses and handkerchiefs.

A tie on pocket usually lived under large petticoats and skirts safely out of reach from prying eyes or pocket pickers. However, this made for great thievery- as a woman, you could hide objects very easily under voluminous skirts. Court reports from the 17 and 1800’s show a range of sizeable stolen goods found in women’s pockets including chickens, lengths of cloth, shawls and even five glass tumblers taken from a warehouse. The tie- on pocket started to fall out of daily use in the 19th Century as fashions changed and women started to work outside the home. Purses were often carried. Pocket books were also common. These were designed to fit the pocket and were produced commercially in large numbers, the 18th and 19th century equivalent of Filofaxes and Palm Pilots. Over the shoulder bags and hand-bags started to replace them as skirts got less voluminous and shorter and women started to cycle. In the early 20th century tie on pockets were being used particularly in the fishing communities of Wales and Scotland. Now they are a rare occurrence. Older traveler women in Ireland still carry small trinkets and memorabilia in ‘beady pockets’ which are highly decorated pouches worn around the waist.

A Traveller woman’s ‘beady pocket’ – part purse, part handbag, part sewing kit. Courtesy Linen Hall Library.



Banana and Pineapple Project in Bangladesh

February 1, 2015
Doori-abaca dress made from fine banana fibre

Doori-abaca dress made from fine banana fibre


My work with UNIDO will be ending later this year but this wonderful little sustainable project will continue to grow from strength to strength….This is because the collaborators in the project: NITER, Prabartana, and the International consultants have all worked organically and methodically to bring the idea to life. It has been a great 3 years..The project is an answer to a few problems one of which is the flow of migration from rural areas to urban areas.
Bangladesh does not have an indigenous fibre industry, instead it imports a lot of the cloth that it needs to fuel its big textile industry from Uzbekistan and other cotton producing countries. This project will help to reduce reliance on these imported fibres and create a robust indigenous textile industry which is innovative, competitive, supports livelihoods and remains sustainable. The beauty of this project is that both the fibre and the organic compost are produced from what is left after fruit is harvested. Essentially it is an intervention which transforms ‘the waste’ into another product. Thus creating a closed loop system.

Voice for Change Exhibition

January 31, 2015

Collar Full Fin Exeter

I feel very privileged to have been invited to take part in this exhibition -Voice for Change which is on from the
12 January – 29 March 2015 and can be found in the UAL Showroom at High Holburn

Climate change changes everything, yet outmoded perspectives pervade many of fashion’s artistic and business practices. This exhibition marks new paths being made through listening well and looking deeply into fashion’s role in holding up a mirror up to mark our times and to contribute to change. These voices and actions are part of a quiet revolution, taking place through UAL student and alumni work. We have gathered here a range of these ideas to form a cycle of thinking that connects us to the earth, ourselves and each other through fashion’s relationships and artefacts, its meaning and its matter.

Dilys Williams, Professor of Fashion Design for Sustainability

Exhibition curated by Dilys Williams and Camilla Palestra, Centre for Sustainable Fashion

A series of events runs in conjunction with the exhibition. Full information and booking can be found through UAL events


Anja Crabb
London College of Fashion/ MA Fashion and the Environment / 2011

Gareth Mitchell
London College of Communication/ MA Sound Arts / 2014

Majestic Disorder
Sean Stillmaker: London College of Communication / MA Journalism / 2014
Kelley Mullarkey: London College of Fashion/ BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism / 2015

Mariana Gomes de Negreiros
London College of Fashion/ MA Fashion Futures / 2014

Ode to A.
Sabrina Kraus López: Central Saint Martins/ MA Material Futures / 2014

Rachel Clowes
London College of Fashion / MA Fashion and the Environment / 2013

Ruiyin Lin
Central Saint Martins / BA (Hons) Jewellery Design / 2014

Susie Wareham: London College of Fashion/ MA Fashion Futures / 2014

The Deep Ecology Design Club
Ross Le Ber-Smith: Chelsea College of Arts / BA (Hons) Graphic Design Communication / 2017

Jessica Ball
London College of Fashion / MA Fashion Futures / 2016

Tara Baoth Mooney
London College of Fashion/ MA Fashion and the Environment / 2011

Zoe Grace Fletcher
London College of Fashion/ MA Fashion and the Environment / 2011

Zuzana Gombosova
Central Saint Martins/ MA Textile Futures / 2014

Dhaka again…with UNIDO Jan 2013

January 16, 2013

I am about to go to Bangladesh  for the second time. This time I am working for UNIDO as a consultant with the project Better Work in Textiles and Garments . Under this project UNIDO is working with the Ministry of Commerce to improve the RMG sector and the BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT).

Along with the seminars and cluster workshops I will be facilitating in Dhaka, I hope to visit the singing weavers in Tangail and  meet the seed keepers that have been preserving the diverse strains of seed for hundreds of years. No basmati rice here!

More later….IMG_3726

Dhaka, Bangladesh

January 16, 2013

Went to do some work in Dhaka for the first time in May 2012. Amazing place, beautiful textiles here. This is block printing using a local paste which oxidizes and becomes fast- drying to a beautiful bluish grey.  Aranya.IMG_3717

India-West Bengal

June 28, 2012

Victoria House exhibition

February 13, 2011
Camille and claudette purse collar.

Camille and claudette purse collar.


You can watch the video ‘Time’ here

Fashion Footprints Sustainable Approaches

October 10, 2010

‘Fashion Footprints in the forest’

Conference: Fashion Transitions – Ethical Fashion Insights

To support the exhibition Fashion Footprints Sustainable Approaches, we are organizing a conference to explore further some of the areas we looked at in the exhibition…

Where: Somerset College of Arts and Technology

When: Thursday 4th November, 10.30am – 4pm – registration at 10am

Adm. £24 (including lunch), £10 student concession (does not include lunch). Booking essential – or 01392 832277

The aim of ‘Fashion Transitions’ is to provide a platform for discourse around the areas of fashion, wellbeing, nature and enterprise. The conference will encourage delegates to think about how change can happen and look to successful models of change/transition, examining how these can be applied to the fashion industry and consumer behaviour. The speakers chosen represent areas from across a wide range of disciplines.

Confirmed speakers are:

Otto von Busch, Fashion Hacktivist from Göteborg University (Sweden)

Alastair Fuad-Luke, winner of the publishing category European Environmental Design Awards for The Eco-design Handbook.

Lee Holdstock, Trade Relations Manager from the Soil Association

Piers Thomas  who  designs innovative performance-enhancing technical products to create positive change

Finisterre, a South West clothing company with a line of clothing exclusively made of rare breed wool from Devon.

Exhibition: Fashion Footprints

October 10, 2010

Exhibition: Fashion Footprints

Fashion Footprints: Sustainable Approaches is a groundbreaking concept devised by CCANW and graduates from the MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion.

The pioneering exhibition explores the idea of fashion and textiles acting as an interface between humankind and the environment. It combines accessible illustrated display panels and representative garments and aims to highlight the key problems and major environmental and social impacts that result from the fashion and textile industries. The project considers realistic solutions embedded in existing practice, and seeks to dispel the ambivalence that is so often associated with fashion and sustainability.

The photograph below is taken from the fashion in the forest site specific dance piece which was choreographed specially for the occasion.

Photograph by Kevin Clifford