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Links between British and Italian menswear to be investigated in new research project

Tom Bottomley
28 November 2022

A new research project called ‘Locating Menswear’ is launching this month to investigate the cultural and industrial connections between London, Liverpool, Manchester and also Milan in Italy, and how they have influenced the production and consumption of British menswear.

Led by Professor Andrew Groves, Director of the Westminster Menswear Archive at the University of Westminster, and Jo Jenkinson from Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, the project is in partnership with C.P. Company, Liverpool menswear retailer SEVENSTORE, the UKFT and the British Fashion Council (BFC).

Lorenzo Osti, President of C.P. Company, said: “Menswear has been a common language between British and Italian men for decades, as evidenced by C.P. Company's history. We are thrilled to be a part of this network, which provides us with a fantastic opportunity to share our knowledge, passion, and values in order to create a meaningful cultural exchange.”

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 UK and Italy over the course of the next sixteen months. 

Professor Groves said: “Existing knowledge of British fashion from 1945 onwards has historically focused on designer womenswear to understand the fashioned body, while menswear has remained relatively unexamined, with little research into how it differs in its design, production, or consumption processes.

“Menswear has been consistently under-researched and underrepresented in dress collections, resulting in a distorted understanding of the history of British fashion and its locations of creation, production, display, and consumption.”

British Italian menswear fashion

Jo Jenkinson commented: “The network's objective is to expand the field of fashion research by bringing together an interdisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners, and fashion intermediaries, in order to begin identifying and addressing critical gaps in knowledge surrounding menswear.”

Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the BFC, added: “Menswear is a core part of the landscape of the UK fashion industry and vital to the BFC’s strategy to spotlight excellence in creativity innovation and design globally.

“Over the past 10 years, since the launch of London Collections Men, that legacy of menswear from tailoring to sportswear has exploded with talent, which is supported by brilliant craftsman, retailers, media, innovators from across the UK. This will be showcased at London Fashion Week in June 2023.”

Daniel Milne, Head of Creative at SEVENSTORE in Liverpool, said: “Understanding the physical and digital spaces where menswear is encountered by the public through display and consumption is critical to understanding its history and planning for the industry's future.

“Liverpool has had an active and profound influence on the evolution of British menswear, and we are excited that this will be explored and celebrated as part of the network's activities.”

The network builds on the research already undertaken by Professor Groves who established the Westminster Menswear Archive (WMA) in 2016 and co-curated the award-winning ‘Invisible Men’ exhibition in 2019.

The WMA holds over 2,000 menswear garments from 1780 to the present day, including garments from Aquascutum, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Belstaff, Barbour, C.P. Company, Stone Island, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Lewis Leathers, Nigel Cabourn and Prada.

The network's activities will be documented on Instagram, with an exhibition highlighting the network’s findings scheduled to be presented during London Fashion Week in February 2024.

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