Yorkshire Fashion Archive

a unique historical and cultural collection

Yorkshire Fashion Archive

Yorkshire Fashion Archive

Welcome to the Yorkshire Fashion Archive

Based in the School of Design and underpinned by research excellence at the University of Leeds, the Yorkshire Fashion Archive is a publicly accessible collection of haute couture, fashion garments and everyday clothing of major historical significance, reflecting the social and economic changes in the region throughout the 20th century.

It provides a unique historical and cultural record of Yorkshire life and documents clothing produced, purchased and worn by Yorkshire folk over a 100 year period. The collection reflects changing social attitudes and multi-cultural influences, economic prosperity, global trends and the regional technical excellence in textiles and clothing.

Many of the garments donated by the public are accompanied by photographic images, information and anecdotes concerning the artifacts themselves, the wearer or the situations in which they were worn. The policy of the archive is to ensure that clothing and accessories are not amassed in isolation but as part of a deliberate attempt to discover the history of the clothes in relation to the wearer and in so doing tell us something about the wearer. Through the museum standard Modes catalogue, it is possible to navigate the part that clothes play in unfolding a Yorkshire narrative, adding a new dimension to historic research.

The twentieth century was a crucial period in the cultural, industrial and intellectual development of Yorkshire. The collection identifies, expands upon and appraises these aspects of Yorkshire’s history by exploring ways in which a society’s experiences, values and beliefs are communicated through clothing. The purpose of the archive is to capture narratives that articulate class and gender identities in a new way, one which directly links with personal histories. By researching a range of questions relating to apparel and socio-economic factors within the Yorkshire region in the 20th century the collection attempts to document the many different associations relating to clothing and attire.

The collection provides a nationally significant resource for the development and support of education, research and public engagement.  Both Fashion Staff and students are pivotal in creating exhibitions that highlight research and design outcomes to a wider audience. Yorkshire based fabric manufactures, companies, and associations all support this process through generous sponsorship.

Previous exhibitions from the Archive

Vintage Noire II – Future Fashion Factory. Salts Mill, Saltaire. October 2019.

Vintage Noire – Disrupting the Fashion Archive. School of Design, University of Leeds. September 2019.

White Vintage – Looking for the Mistake. Corn Exchange, Leeds.  April 2018.

The Synthetics Revolution – ULITA. June – December 2016.

Television coverage

BBC 1 Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, June 2016: ‘Living in ’66: Suits, Boots and Northern Roots’, with Kay Mellor

BBC 2 June 2014: ‘Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter’, with Professor Pamela Cox

BBC 1 Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, April 2011: promotional footage for ‘Dress Rehearsal’, with Cathy Killick

Our archive

Explore a selection of garments from our collection