Tailored trades: clothes, labour and professional communities (1880-1939)


Principal Investigator: Dr Vike Plock (University of Exeter)
Co-investigators: Dr Nicole Robertson (Northumbria University)
Collaborators: Bishopgate Institute; People’s History Museum Manchester
Duration: From 2012 to 2014

The Industrial Revolution fundamentally changed the commercial, professional and social landscape of the modern world.
While factory and clerical workers, sales assistants, parlour maids, trade unionists and other members of a newly established workforce faced changing working environments, a radical transformation of clothes paralleled this revolution in trades and industries. New vocations required new vestments. Social mobility expressed itself in new sartorial patterns and specific uniforms became the markers of professional identity. The fashion industry developed into an influential new market force while the affordability of mass-produced clothing launched the ready-to-wear industry. At the turn of the twentieth century the histories of dress and labour shared many common threads.