Fashion and Textiles Collection

Scope and Content

A collection of books and journals relating to fashion and textiles, held at De Montfort University Archives and Special Collections. The scope of the collection is extensive and includes high fashion, every day fashion and home dress making, embroidery, costume, hosiery and knitwear manufacture, scientific studies into textiles manufacturing processes, dyes, pigments and the processes of dyeing, and shoe manufacture. Some of the fashion magazines and women’s journals date back to the 1840s and include a wealth of information on contemporary fashions as well as illuminating social attitudes about women’s roles.

Administrative / Biographical History

Teaching in the fields of fashion and textiles has been of importance to De Montfort University since its foundation as the Leicester School of Art. The curriculum has always involved teaching of both design and practical techniques aimed at supporting the local textiles and garment manufacturing industries. In 1900, for example, the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School offered classes in Boot and Shoe Manufacturing including pattern cutting, sewing, making and finishing, and a Hosiery Trade course which taught framework knitting and gave a grounding in the science behind the trade such as machine construction, dyeing and chemistry. Dressmaking, embroidery, wool dyeing and leather dyeing were also offered as separate classes. Students could enrol on 2 year courses on leaving school, or could attend evening classes to brush up their skills and improve their employment prospects.

By 1950 the Leicester College of Art included a School of Dress Design and a School of Corsetry. Students learned design, cutting-out, modelling and making up of garments by trade methods, fabric design both knitted and printed, embroidery, millinery, dressmaking, underwear and outerwear, tailoring and hand loom weaving. The Leicester College of Technology still incorporated a School of Boot and Shoe Manufacture and a School of Textiles, expanded to include degree level courses for those wishing to become managers within the industry and a course on shoe design.

The Hosiery and Allied Trades Research Association (HATRA) was based at Thorneywood House, Nottingham. It was founded in July 1949 to support the hosiery section of the textile industry by conducting and publishing relevant research. The Association ran a research programme based on problems suggested by the hosiery industry, ran a testing and faults investigation service, managed a Library and Information Service, and sent representatives to Textile Institute committees. When the HATRA library was transferred to Leicester Polytechnic in 1992 it was described as "the best collection of information on knitted garment production in the world".

Access Information

Available for general access, although it is advisable to contact the Archivist to make an appointment before visiting.

Acquisition Information

The contents of the HATRA library were acquired in 1992 when the organisation closed down.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is listed on the main DMU Library catalogue, look for shelf mark "Fashion & Textiles Collection" and location "Kimberlin Special Collections".

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Katharine Short, Archivist, March 2013.

Related Material

A complementary Fashion and Textiles section is being developed in the DMU Archive.

Some archival material relating to HATRA can be found at the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office.