It’s about time we investigated our enduring love for oversized patch pockets, camo print and military green.
From top: Prada; Miu Miu; Sacai; Chitose Abe of Sacai remixes utilitarianism by combining elements and forms – like layering a fitted down jacket on top of an oversized trenchcoat.
There is perhaps no greater post-purchase discovery than ﬁnding out your garment has pockets. Surprising as this may sound, practicality is actually exciting. And with utilitarian-inspired looks storming the F/W ’19 runways, there is no better time to go back to their origins to ﬁnd out why.
Practicality has always been at the heart of utilitarian fashion. Back in the era of World War II Britain, in a bid to reduce wastage, clothing manufacturers were obliged to produce certain quotas using only utility cloth – which were then labelled with the distinctive CC41 logo – before they could use other textiles to make clothes.
Farrah Fawcett in a fitted jumpsuit and utility belt for a Charlie’s Angels action sequence
This limitation was fertile ground for creative brilliance. The design restrictions and austerity led to a focus on practical style – cinching the waist for a narrower silhouette or accentuating the hips with patch pockets. The increased participation of women in military service also paved the way for these uniform elements to enter the modern fashion vernacular.
Utilitarianism today, though, is heading for new territory. It is more experimental and evocative – think Sacai’s abstract layering of down jackets over trenchcoats, Prada’s extremely oversized patch pockets, and Miu Miu’s medley of fabrics and green hues on its cape and in artistic camouﬂage print.
Of course, we’re now seeing less utility and more fashion. But the spirit of making a statement remains the same. – VW