In the last few years, something strange has happened: pockets, those humble, hand-sized pouches tucked into pants and pinned onto shirts, have grown to gigantic proportions. I’m not talking about standard-issue pockets, here, but rather billowing cargo pants with pockets large enough to fit a MacBook Air. Slouchy overshirts, with pockets that can easily carry a classic Moleskine notebook, a packet of pens, and maybe one or two editions of pocket-sized Shakespeare. T-shirts with a pouch up front you could carry a small melon in. The utilitarian look has been bouncing around more the esoteric pockets of the menswear world for quite some time. Now, though, it has suddenly popped up with newfound zest at fast-fashion retailers and on Instagram curation accounts. The gigantic pocket is coming for you.
And not just you. Big Pocket has high-profile celebrity loyalists in the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber. If you think of the steady stream of paparazzi photos of West leaving his Calabasas office, a few motifs come to mind. His uniform usually consists of heavily pocketed cargo pants or a chore coat with some sort of sizable chest pocket. Just this week, Bieber posted a casual photo on his Instagram of himself wearing a button-up shirt with two prominent pockets…and cargo pants with, yes, two mega pockets.
The celebs have plenty to choose from: boxy overshirts with larger-than-usual pockets have become a staple of designer Christopher Lemaire at both his eponymous label and his ongoing collaboration with Uniqlo. Errolson Hugh has built a devoted following based on his futuristic and pocket-heavy work at Acronym and his stint at Nike ACG. Rick Owens’ legendary gothleisure, along with Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo’s high-end athleisure, both feature their fair share of statement pockets, too.
Those designers didn’t spring up with huge pockets out of nowhere. The past few seasons and trend cycles have been dominated by a relatively consistent stripe of utilitarian workwear, cross-body bags, performance sneakers, and other high-tech accessories—all of which have made room for pockets that make serious room. Standouts include Alyx’s “Chest Rig” bag, designed by recently-appointed Givenchy creative director Matthew Williams, while predecessors include the bulletproof-esque vest that Kanye West sent down the runway for his inaugural Yeezy collection. (Not to mention: this pair of Yeezy pants that West released in 2018.) It feels accurate to ascribe this hyper-functional look to the lasting influence of Helmut Lang, the virtuoso designer who ushered in a wave of bold utilitarian minimalism in the late 1990s.