Digital wardrobe shows UK’s changing lifestyles
The UK’s changing fashions from tracksuits to knitted bikinis are to be collected in a huge online wardrobe for the benefit of vintage enthusiasts, school pupils, social historians and academic researchers.
Celebrated mail-order company Kay & Co Ltd was for more than 100 years a staple of shopping in the UK, providing contemporary fashions, household items and luxuries at affordable prices to the general public.
Now over 1500 images from the catalogues are to be digitised online by the University of Worcester with funding from JISC – and the public are invited to contribute images and stories of their own concerning their favourite outfits which will give future historians an insight into today’s attitudes to the fashions on display.
Paola Marchionni, programme manager at JISC said: ”The World of Kays is such an interesting project not only because it brings back images of what our taste in fashion used to be - like velour tracksuits with heels - but because it provides a visual history of society and culture in the last century. It proves that history isn’t always written down but is also alive in our stories and memories which people can contribute to academic research. At JISC we were interested in funding this project as it has a strong local focus but wider appeal to researchers, teachers and the public outside the Worcester area as well.”
The website will explore the impact of Kay & Co Ltd on shaping the nation’s lifestyle and clothing choices from 1920 to 2000, as well as the contribution the company made to city life.
Until the website is launched, members of the public can get involved with the World of Kays project on Facebook or by following @WorldofKays on Twitter.
Project manager Jenni Waugh said: “The website will be a fantastic resource for community historians and fashion enthusiasts alike. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make the history of Kays more available.”
The Kays Collection of catalogues and business records was deposited in the University of Worcester’s Research Collections by Bernard Mills, Chair of Kays Heritage Group. Mr Mills was responsible for rescuing the Kays business archive.
You can search all of JISC’s imaginative content using the tool below - including the Kay's catalogue once the collection goes live: