WESTMINSTER MENSWEAR ARCHIVE
The Westminster Menswear Archive was founded to encourage and develop the study of menswear design from a technical and functional point of view and consists of over 1500 garments covering military, workwear, industrial, social and designer clothing. It is also intended to advance the general knowledge of menswear as a design discipline and is used by members of the menswear design industry as a primary research tool to inform contemporary menswear design.
Supported by the Quintin Hogg Trust, Professor Groves launched the Westminster Menswear Archive in 2015. It is the world’s only publicly accessible menswear archive, which has over 1500 examples of menswear from British designers and brands including Craig Green, Liam Hodges, Kim Jones, Aitor Throup, Vivienne Westwood, Mr Fish, Belstaff, Barbour, Burberry, Vexed Generation, and Aquascutum.
The Westminster Menswear Archive has examples of some of the most critical and inspiring menswear garments covering the last 100 years. The archive includes garments from Alexander McQueen, Craig Green, Stone Island, Meadham Kirchhoff, Ralph Lauren, Liam Hodges, Carol Christian Poell, C.P. Company, Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Flett, Kim Jones, Aitor Throup, Vivienne Westwood, Mr Fish, Calvin Klein, adidas, Nanamica, Belstaff, Barbour, Burberry, Maison Margiela, Jeremy Scott, Vexed Generation, Aquascutum, Levis, Jeremy Scott, Berghaus, Penfield, Griffin, and Comme Des Garcons.
The archive is an essential destination for researchers, designers and students, including from the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, Kingston University, London College of Fashion. The archive attracts industry based design research, including; Liam Hodges, Rapha, Versace, Hunter, Matthew Miller, Perry Ellis, Jigsaw, Alexander McQueen, H&M, British Fashion Council, The Financial Times, Esquire and Vogue.
The public website of the Menswear Archive is accessible here.
In 2022, Westminster Menswear Archive launched, Locating Menswear, an international research network to investigate the cultural and industrial connections between London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Milan, Italy, and how they have influenced the production, display and consumption of British menswear. The international network is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and will host a series of workshops and events in the United Kingdom and Italy. The network’s activities will be documented on Instagram at @locating_menswear.
The archive is run in conjunction with Westminster’s archive collections, and is available to search here.
The Menswear Archive is a research repository and a unique reference source for curators, scholars, designers and industry researchers. The archive has been extensively catalogued for rapid searching and allows for a range of object handling approaches, and methods, giving researchers direct access to design, textiles, patterns etc of unique pieces. Whilst used intensively as a teaching archive, it is also used for research training and industrial research, and is linked with other significant International Fashion Collections and Museums.
The ongoing development of the archive is supported through generous funding of the Quintin Hogg Trust. Our research of new acquisitions requires considerable knowledge and insight into the menswear industry and the role of significant pieces in the history and future of fashion, military and workwear areas. We are also supported in this work by leading fashion designers, brands and collectors who donate key pieces to the collection.
The Menswear Archive also acts a hub through which research into menswear more generally can be focused. In this respect, it is hub for development of academic study, new projects and events. A key part of that activity, and our own research outputs is the public exhibitions programme, that also includes research-led events, conferences, with speakers from industry and the academe.
You can access further information on Menswear Archive official website here.
Professor Andrew Groves launched the Westminster Menswear Archive in 2015. Before his academic career Andrew Groves worked as a designer in the fashion industry both under his eponymous label as well as for others, most notably Alexander McQueen. Until the mid-1990s Groves was Alexander McQueen’s senior design assistant.
Several examples of Groves’ work are held in the National Collection of Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and additionally the Fashion Museum in Bath.
Dr Danielle Sprecher is Menswear Archive Curator at the University of Westminster.
A dress historian and curator, Dr Sprecher has worked with a wide range of dress and textile collections. These include the Goldsmiths Textile Collection, Leeds Museums and Galleries, the collection of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, and Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.
Her AHRC funded doctoral research project ‘Fashion for the High Street: The Design and Making of Menswear in Leeds 1945-1980’ revealed the often overlooked but highly significant role of the Leeds multiple tailors in the history of British men’s clothing and fashion. These companies included the national chains of Montague Burton Ltd (now Arcadia) and Joseph Hepworth & Sons (which became Next in the 1980s). The study took a dress historical approach combining object study, oral history and personal accounts, company archives and trade literature to look at the design, production and consumption of the men’s tailoring made by the Leeds multiples. The research was undertaken in collaboration with Leeds Museums and Galleries.
The history of menswear and masculinities is the main focus of Dr Sprecher’s research. She is particularly interested in the use of methodologies such as object study and oral history to reveal the richness and diversity of men’s experiences and relationships with their clothing in the past. Her research also investigates the relationships between design, production and consumption of fashion and clothing with an emphasis on mass produced and everyday menswear.
Past exhibitions involving the Westminster Menswear Archive include: Undercover (2020); Invisible Men: An Anthology from the Westminster Menswear Archive (2019) and The Vanishing Art of Camouflage (2016).