The purpose of this assignment was to cultivate a prepared mind by observing other people’s pains in
day to day life and digging deeper to find the root problems.
Observation on 9/20/19 at 9 pm:
I observed people at a bar to understand problems in a more casual environment
- My friend was complaining about the conundrum of deciding between carrying a big purse all night or holding everything in their hands precariously when going out. She said big purses were super annoying, but pockets in women’s clothing are not large enough to fit your phone, keys, and wallet, let alone anything else. This puts her in between a rock and a hard place because either option leaves her uncomfortable and vulnerable to losing her stuff. After thinking about this more, I realized that not having pockets often turned women towards having men hold their things, which fosters a dependency. Alternatively, they might lug around a giant bag that makes them responsible for everyone’s stuff. Once I thought about that I thought about WHY women’s clothing doesn’t have sufficient pockets. This brainstorming got me thinking about how women’s clothing is generally tighter and less durable than men’s clothing based on my own experiences.
- After turning in milestone 2, I noticed the lack of pockets in women's clothing a couple more times now that I was aware of it. First, my coworker mentioned that she needed to order a clear purse for the UT game per the new safety policy. This is frustrating because she has to buy a new purse that she won’t necessarily wear outside of football season. Additionally, it is difficult to circumvent getting this clear bag because the alternative is to stuff all your belongings in pockets (which doesn’t work if you wear most dresses) or to shove it into your boots with the hope they’ll stay in. I also observed many women at ACL clutching their phones in their hands because they were wearing dresses. This seems especially difficult to do all day considering you are bumping against people in tight crowds all day. I found myself doing this and feeling very prone to losing my phone, which made me feel a little paranoid.
Who is in need and/or has a pain?
- Anyone wearing clothing made for women
(In the following answers I refer to this group as ‘womxn’ in order to include underrepresented groups like trans women, women of color, and any other intersectional subgroup that identifies as a woman. )
I would love to pick womxn’s brains on how they feel about the subject to get more insight on how this affects their emotions apart from inconvenience. Questions I would ask might be: How does it make you feel when you don’t have any pockets? What do you do if you don’t have pockets? Do you carry a purse? If so, what do you look for in a purse? How does it feel to carry a purse in addition to your other belongings? Do you drop your phone? Do you misplace your belongings? Do you have someone else carry your things? Why do you think women’s clothes do not have appropriate pockets?
Besides interviewing womxn, I think it would perhaps be more insightful to just observe them as they do their day to day activities. Watching how people navigate handling their items while doing other things like running errands, buying coffee, working out, etc. might uncover problems that might not realize they have. This would be more interesting if the person we are observing is not clued in on what we are looking for. Additionally, we might find needs that we didn’t think of while just brainstorming outside of the context.
Also, I think it would be quite enlightening and fun to have men (or those who wear men’s clothing regularly) walk around all day without being able to use their pockets and see what they would do! I would be particularly interested in seeing how their perspective on pockets changes, if at all, and if they connect this activity to the lack of appropriate pockets in women’s clothing. I imagine there would be some variability in whether or not they are aware of this problem at all or if it is under the radar for them. This would be an interesting tactic for those of us working on the project as well because we would gain empathy for what it’s like to navigate routines without this convenience.
The first assumption that has risen from studying the lack of pockets in women’s clothing is that women dislike carrying their items outside of their own body in a purse or other container. While the person observed mentioned how the purse added to their disorganization and limited their movement, this may not be the case for all. Within this assumption, I also assumed that people did not want to pay extra money to buy purses, which from observation, I have labeled as accessories, not necessities.
The second assumption that developed from this observation is that the lack of pockets in women’s clothing heightens their sense of dependency. By dependency I mean either depending on another accessory, like a purse, or on another person to carry their belongings. Based on my observations, I also assumed that many womxn do ask men to carry their belongings because they have larger pockets and more room to carry extra things. This may not be true for all people; some people may feel more powerful and in control carrying a purse, for instance.
POV: Womxn need a way to carry their belongings because current clothing options designed for women generally do not provide sufficient pockets for storage, making them dependent on another method to protect their belongings that is outside of their person.
- Pants with magnetic wallet attachments
I thought that a pair of pants with a magnet that attached to a detachable pocket would be useful for people wearing women’s clothing because the pocket can detach, hence be added to different items of clothing. Additionally, the magnet would keep the pocket securely and comfortably attached to the clothing. I got this idea from my nametag at work, which is attached to my apron with a magnet stuck on one side and one placed loosely on the inside. Earlier, I assumed problems that small pockets on women’s clothing provided: discomfort, dependency, and disorganization. I think that the magnetic wallet could attempt to alleviate all of these problems effectively because of the security and flexibility it provides.
2. Locker checkout at bars
A coat check but for phones, keys, wallets, etc.! Checking your belongings would free your hands, giving you autonomy in movement without worrying about some of your most valuable possessions! Womxn wouldn’t have to carry a purse, or be dependent on a man to carry their belongings.
I would need access to people willing to be observed for a portion of the day and agreeing to an interview afterwards. Honestly, I think that this qualitative data would be the most useful resource that we could use to pursue the idea. With more data we can make sure that the design is actually fulfilling the need, and not just for one person. If I designed for just myself, or just for my friends, I’m sure that the design would not make, say, my mom happy because it wouldn’t fulfill her needs for a solution. Getting lots of interview candidates is not outside of my control, but it would be difficult to get people who are outside my general circle around UT. These hurdles could be manageable with proper planning.
Also, I would need to make a physical prototype. I think that I could make a quick prototype of both of my ideas with less than $5 using items that I have at home. These could be proof of concepts that could be used to gauge interest and help others visualize the idea. If the idea went further, more resources would be needed, such as capital, technology and support from a community. These right now are outside our control, but an effective marketing strategy could help gain speed on these fronts.