Signs of wear: encountering memory in the worn materiality of a museum fashion collection

Bide, Bethan (2017) Signs of wear: encountering memory in the worn materiality of a museum fashion collection. Fashion Theory, 21 (4) . pp. 449-476. ISSN 1362-704X [Article] (doi:10.1080/1362704X.2017.1290204)

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Historical clothes are more than just examples of how past societies dressed—they are imbued with small details of individual lives in their marks of wear. In this article I explore how these marks evoke memories, and how setting up interactions between personal memories and the materiality of fashion objects creates opportunities for new perspectives in the field of fashion history. I open this article by considering how historians might draw on the methodologies of material culture and archival co-authorship to bring memories into collections research. In order to illustrate these ideas, I then present objects from the Museum of London’s fashion collection alongside my own family photographs and stories to show how integrating my grandmother’s memories into my material culture research disrupted the conventional narratives of 1940s austerity fashion. I conclude by considering how the application of memory to collections research might inform the way that fashion objects are displayed in museums. I suggest that, by focusing on the relationship between visitor memories and the small details of how a garment has been worn and used, museums could create displays which disrupt historical orthodoxies and reveal how echoes of the past continue to shape contemporary fashion cultures.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design > Fashion and Interiors
Item ID: 22912
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Fashion Theory on 21/02/2017, available online:
Depositing User: Bethan Bide
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 13:04
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:47

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