Monday, 1 October 2012

Utility Belts And You

Or the fashion accessory that is just begging to happen.

I recently wrote a thing about mainstream geek popularity, geek consumerism, and hypothetical pro-geek corporate manipulation. While thinking about the relationship between pop culture and fashion and geekyness, I observed one of my coworkers using the stretchy fabric belt on her empire-waisted-frock to hold her iPhone. It occurred to me that what she really needed was a utility belt.

A complaint that women in my life frequently make is that the majority of their clothing lack pockets with any sort of capacity. Not to say that there aren't pocketed options, but it seems the majority of dresses, skirts, and fashionable trousers tend to eschew storage capacity in favour of tightness and aesthetics. As a result many women are forced to rely on purses or jamming there phones/media players under belts, into undersized pockets, or, in the case of one my coworkers, inside their bras. A utility belt could be a solution to this problem with its many pockets and possible applicability to a number of looks/outfits.

Of course, for a female garment to become widely adopted by mainstream consumers it has to fashionable. Fortunately, I think conditions are brewing where this may be possible. Geek culture is going mainstream with an increase in self identifying geeks and the accumulation of cultural cache. This means that there are more openly geeky women who are willing to use fashion to express their geekyness. Pair this with a growing interest in cosplay, which shares a Ven diagram with lady geeks and utility belts and I think you have the potential for utility belts to be worn in regular life by female geeks (if it isn't happening already).

This represents at best a cultural beachhead, but I think it's an important one. As geekyness becomes more and more mainstream, comic books and fashion forward cosplayers could become trendsetters. What they wear could be what everyone wears the next year (and what Hipsters wear a decade later). And to a certain extent geeks already are informing fashion: designers are already mining comics and Sci-fi for inspiration.

There's another consideration: utility belts actually look GOOD. When my lovely coworker agreed to rock my army surplus pouch belt (bought for an Orson Randall Ironfist Halloween costume) I thought the result would look funny instead of awesome... but throw in a Han-Solo-roguish-angle and IT WORKS. Imagine how good it could look after a fashion designer got a hold of the idea and made some more minimalist and chique utility belts in black. I think this could actually happen, and if it did the idea could catch on in the mainstream.

So there it is, utility belts are a highly functional fashion accessory that can/does look good and with the trendiness of geekdom has the potential to break through to the mainstream. 

Let's make this happen.

(And then maybe my lab manager can turn off her phone's infuriatingly obnoxious ringtone and put it on vibrate.)

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