Pockets have always been a major part of Rohan garment design. Long before Rohan Bags the value of pockets in very early Rohan garments became fundamental to the design of each garment. Each pocket was positioned to maximise function and comfort for the user.
Whilst Rohan pioneered the importance of pockets in outdoor garment design in the UK. Others in far off lands had similar thoughts long before Rohan. One of the most enduring was a gentleman called Jacob Davis a Nevada tailor who came up with the idea of manufacturing riveted trousers. He worked with a gentleman called Levi Strauss and we all know the results read the story .
Rohan pockets in the early garments where positioned to ensure fitness for purpose. The first Rohan Salopette has 4 bellows pockets two on the chest, two on the thigh. Very soon a 5th zipped pocket was added behind the two upper bellows pockets to accommodate maps compass and security. A further 6th and 7th pocket was added to the double seat area. The Action Jacket picture above is a great example of early Rohan Pocketry.
Rohan pockets needed lots of zips. In those early days zip reliability was not good. Rohan turned to RiRi the Swiss zip manufacturer to provide all zips on all Rohan garments. RiRi then, as now, produced zips for extreme condition when failure is not an option. Tim Rohan’s design guru ponders on Rohan Pocketry…
“Zip reliability has improved dramatically since those early days. Even as a small company we buy a lot of zips (!) so over the years we have worked with all the reputable zip suppliers worldwide. Naturally we eschew the “copy” zips and the cheap unbranded ones -independent tests show they just don’t measure up. For the last few years we have been working with YKK – the world leader in high quality zips. They are not cheap and they take a long time to deliver but we think it’s worth it. Interestingly, since the switch to YKK our returns on zip failures have dropped to virtually nothing.”
Rohan Pocketry proved to be a cornerstone of all Rohan garment design that has endured to this day. Tim added…
“Take our Ultimate Cargos launched in March 2009: these trousers have capacious pockets, but we’ve avoided the large boxes stuck on the sides of the legs look. (Ring any bells!) The pockets are integrated into the design and lie quite flat, but the one on the right can take the classic walkers’ Ordnance Survey map. Which must be the largest topographic map in the world! Why are they so big anyway? (I like Harveys Maps myself!) In fact, it will even take a laminated map, which is bulkier still.
The pocket on the otherleg is for smaller items and has within it an even smaller pocket, ideal for stopping a compass, GPS or a phone rattling about at the bottom.”
Love them or hate Rohan pockets are fit for purpose. The development of the groundbreaking lightweight range that included the Rohan Bags, Pampas Jacket, Starkhorn Jacket and Action Jacket (See pic) all carried the same hallmark well positioned and well protected pockets lots of them.
There are many funny stories that have been told about Rohan Pocketry. One I remember well concerned the very first Pampas jacket in the late 1970’s Unfortunately I have not be successful in locating a picture of this one. If you have an early Pampas or have a picture I would love to see it. The first Pampas jackets where two tone green or green/blue with large deep bellows sleeves with hood. The sleeve was very distinctive. Four zipped front pockets, two rear zipped pockets plus a hidden zipped pocket under the storm flap. I think there was also an inside pocket. Anything in the upper front pockets could migrate over the shoulders and down the back of the jacket as far as the draw cord waist. This could happen because the jackets two layers where manufactured as two completely separate garments to minimise wind born water penetration through the stitch lines. This worked but the stories of lost passports and car keys disappearing at critical times did raise a smile. Obviously they where not lost – just migrated down the back of the garment. If this happened to you please tell us your story.
Lets finish with a look into the future from Tim
“Actually we are still doing some good technical work with the original RiRi. They have a new water-repellent zip system called Aquazip which is claimed to be even more weatherproof and durable than the excellent YKK water-repellent zips we use. (Note: this is what most people call “waterproof zips”.) The weartesting is going well so far and if we are convinced you should see Aquazips appearing on some very special waterproof garments later in Winter 2009.”
It’s good to know that Pocketry lives on in the current Rohan range.
Sarah Howcroft Co founder Rohan Designs
First published on Rohantime 15/02/2009