Thank you very much for the thoughtful feedback, everyone - both here on the thread as well as in the survey. It's quite helpful!
I can't disagree with the criticism of the zipper or the curved seams, since it's a matter of personal preference.
But, I'd like to share my reasoning and some more information about these elements.
One of the goals of this design is to be simpler than the Unaligned skirt, both (a) for a different aesthetic that some might prefer, and (b) in order to arrive at a lower price (via simpler construction and lower manufacturing costs). A zipper fly is not an extravagance by any means, but it is one of the more complex/costly elements of the Unaligned skirt. A centered zipper (as on the current Aqueous prototype) is quite simple/inexpensive to sew. And, locating a zipper fly (or other zipper style) in the front -- either along a new seam line or floating without a seam -- I don't feel could be done while keeping with the goal of a simple look (with the front of the garment being "center stage").
So, that's why the zipper isn't in the front. If it were going to be on the side, the ideal spot would be to have it built into a vertical seam. But that's not possible with the seams being curved, and at any rate, laying the zipper in a seam adjoining a pocket is a little wonky. The other option would be to place it just behind one of the pockets ("behind" as in "toward the wearer's back"). One issue with that, I found, is that that zipper was actually more awkward to reach than locating it in the center of the back. It's easy for the near hand to reach it, but is quite a stretch for the opposite hand, and zipping is much easier with two hands. With the zipper being centered in the back, you do have to "go blind", but neither hand has as far to stretch. Second, if it were just behind the pocket, it would either need to be in a seam that would continue down (but would appear oddly close to the pocket seams) -- or, would have to be floating (no seam continuing below the zipper), a technique which, after being sewn, leaves the zipper more exposed to the eye since there is no seam allowance available to conceal it, even partially. Like this
However, if people feel that "just behind the side" is a better location despite the factors I've mentioned, I'm certainly interested in hearing so!
The closure above the zipper is something that is unfortunately not made clear enough in the photos. The zipper ends at the bottom of the waistband. The right end of the waistband has an extension so that it overlaps the left end, and a hook-and-bar closure
is there to connect them. You can make out the overlap in this photo
, though it's mostly obscured by the belt.
To your point about pranksters, Ian, I think the hook-and-bar closure would make it quite difficult for someone to quickly undo the skirt. Also, although the style of zipper that I'm using is the simplest zipper technique, I'm only an amateur sewer, and this was one of my first attempts. I believe that a professional manufacturer would do a better job of finishing the zipper, making it less visible. Here
is how it should look. I think the main change needed is to increase the distance from the zipper to the surrounding stitches.
In my test wears of this skirt, sitting on the zipper hasn't seemed to be a problem. For one, it's a fairly lightweight nylon-coil zipper. Second, it doesn't reach down far enough to be sat on fully. Third, because it's centered, it lies in between the "longitudes" where most of one's sitting weight is distributed. In the eye of the storm, if you will.
Regarding the skirt opening in the back while a belt opens in the front: initially I, too, had thought the threading and re-threading would be an inconvenience. But I realized that, at least for me, a skirt isn't typically taken off and and put back on multiple times during the day. To use the toilet standing, I just lift the skirt; to use it sitting, I let the skirt fall around me rather than sliding it off of my waist. So typically I would only need to thread the belt once at the beginning of the day, and unthread it at that end, which I would do in any case. Of course, I can imagine situations where a skirt would need to be taken off and put back on during the day. But I'm curious if people feel this would be a bigger problem than I'm imagining?
Lastly, "women's" skirts commonly have zippers located in the back, seemingly without major problems. And, if needed, putting the skirt on backwards, zipping, then rotating, takes only a few seconds.
Are there other objections to the rear zipper that I have missed? Like I wrote above, to me it initially seemed an inconvenience, but did not seem to be one in practice.
My thoughts on the curved seams:
- They make the skirt unique. Products need to distinguish themselves from others in the market in order to succeed. In particular, with a tiny brand like Skirtcraft that's asking for pre-manufacturing crowdfunding (Kickstarter) support, people won't be as likely to back it if it just offers a slight variation on products already available for purchase from established brands, and for a lower price due to overseas mass production. Skirtcraft's three distinguishing factors among skirts in the market, in my mind: large pockets + belt loops, unisex sizing/marketing, and unique style.
- I like to balance simplicity, function, and distinctiveness. The skirt's construction is quite simple in principle (including in comparison to the Unaligned). It has just three panels of fabric. Each of the panel-joining seams is functional: two of them provide anchors for the pockets, and the third contains the zipper. Abstractly, the only ways the skirt could be simpler would be to have no pockets or belt loops (but they're both essential) or no zipper (but elastic and/or drawstring doesn't work well with this type of fabric). The distinctiveness, of course, is that the seams curve around the skirt rather than simply going straight down. Like with the angled front seam on the Unaligned, these are structurally-required elements (the seams) -- but shaped to add interest. I personally prefer this type of visual embellishment to the type where entire non-functional components are added just for appearance.
- About it being easier for men to accept a more plain skirt before venturing into one like this with the unusual curved seams -- personally, I feel the opposite. For me, at least, when I wear a skirt with unusual features (like asymmetrical, angled, and/or curved seams), I imagine that it challenges people's assumptions about skirts even further than encountering a man in a skirt does generally. By looking different from other skirts they've seen, it gently prods the observer (I hope) to wondering if what they're seeing is not in fact a "women's" skirt, but might be a "men's" skirt or a unisex skirt. And thus implicitly introduces the idea that skirt-wearing by men isn't always intended as crossdressing. I want to say: I unequivocally support crossdressing, and want intolerance for crossdressing to be eliminated. But establishing that men's skirt-wearing is not necessarily crossdressing, I think, is essential to growing skirt-wearing by men as a phenomenon. And, I think that fear of being on the receiving end of stupid, hateful reactions to perceived crossdressing could be one of the central factors preventing many men from wearing skirts. On a related point, I feel that the more skirt-wearing by men is normalized (and not always associated with crossdressing), the more anti-crossdressing sentiment will also be eroded, since crossdressers won't be as isolated from others in their choice of clothing.
Again, I'm not saying anyone is wrong to consider a rear zipper or curved seams to be deal-breakers! I just wanted to share the thoughts behind these things, and try to understand people's opinions as fully as possible. Your further thoughts would certainly be appreciated. Thanks.