Well-dressed men of America, listen up. By now we know that Apple (AAPL) is following its rivals into the supersize smartphone market, raising the very important question: Where are you going to put it? See, menswear is facing a crisis of pockets. How many? How big? Where?
Granted, if your collection of workwear leans hard on dad jeans or cargo shorts, or if you’re carrying an Android phone (or a man purse), perhaps you have figured this out already. But a jump from the 4-inch screen of the current iPhone to the coming 4.7-in. and 5.5-in. versions is no small matter, sartorially speaking, particularly since the gadget growth is coming at a time when menswear is favoring trimmer, tighter suits, pants, and sport coats.
What’s a tailor to do? “We would prefer that customers don’t carry their phone in their tailored jacket pocket,” sighs Mark Calder, creative director of Robert Talbott. “But we realize it’s critical to their work life and their social life, so we acquiesce.” The company puts an interior pocket in all of its sport and suit coats specifically for the iPhone. Now, Calder says, they will have to make it bigger.
Men are also getting increasingly particular about where they store their gadgets, says Izzy Zuber, whose LS Men’s Clothing in Manhattan makes roughly 40 bespoke suits a week. Lately, Zuber’s clients have been asking for dividers in the breast pocket of their jackets, so their phones sit vertically rather than “falling down.” In many jackets he’s also adding an extra flap and button to the breast pocket to keep big phones from falling out or being stolen.
Ticket pockets, originally designed to hold train or opera tickets, have made a comeback, in part because they fit a phone nicely—or at least they did in 2011. And smoking has become déclassé, but cigarette pockets are returning: The slot on the inside lining of a sport coat that sits just below the breast pocket is “great for business cards, too, but these days we just call it ‘the phone pocket,’” Zuber says.
Indochino, a company that sells custom suits online, markets a “smart pocket” in its traveling collection of menswear. The slot is tall but not too wide and sits a little bit higher than a traditional breast pocket. Just above it, there’s also a little hole to poke a headphone wire through, so a gentleman can discreetly get charged up on Miley Cyrus en route to a big meeting.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors, however—another New York shop—has embraced all things Apple, including its tablets. The company sells an “iPad suit,” with a slot to accommodate the full-size device. The style cognoscenti at Esquire had this to say about the suit: “Don’t. Not just because it’ll weigh you down, and make your suit jacket look uneven, just … don’t.”
If you’re still not sure why this is a bad idea, Vahram Mateosian, the owner of Manhattan suit maker Mr. Ned, explained that it’s too big and bulky, and “no part of a suit is supposed to look flat.”
But look, smartphones aren’t the only challenge: Men are now cramming all kinds of stuff into their pockets. “Back in the old days, guys would have a briefcase, but nobody carries those anymore,” Mateosian says. “And in clothes that are really tight-fitting, you’re going to see this stuff.” And nobody wants that.
(Full disclosure: Kyle Stock has a pitifully small iPhone, with a cracked screen to boot.)