The Hidden Life of Clothing: Historical Perspectives on Fashion and Sustainability

Join fashion historian and author Rachel Worth as she talks about her new book.

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  • The Hidden Life of Clothing: Historical Perspectives on Fashion and Sustainability

In this online discussion, Rachel Worth talks about her new book, The Hidden Life of Clothing: Historical Perspectives on Sustainability (Bloomsbury, 2023). She contends that, in a climate of increasing anxiety about the environmental and social impact of the contemporary global fashion industry, looking to history can help us navigate the challenges we face today in making decisions about the contents of our wardrobes. Those decisions, she argues, will impact on the nature of the future global fashion industry. Rather than seeking simplistic historical solutions to contemporary problems, she explores ways in which it might be possible to bridge divides between knowledge of the past, current individual choice, and future action.

The more we know about our clothes, the less likely we wear an item of clothing only a few times before replenishing it with newer purchases that are ‘on trend’. By taking ownership of our personal clothing choices rather than feeling pressurised to respond to sophisticated marketing and to ‘influencers’, Rachel suggests some ways in which we might rethink our wardrobes to create a sense of order and beauty in our lives and to wrest control back from the increasing chaos of seemingly endless choice that perpetuates unsustainable, impersonal fast fashion.

About the presenter

Rachel Worth is Professor Emerita (History of Dress and Fashion) at the Arts University Bournemouth, UK, and lives in Dorset. She read history at Cambridge, studying for her MA and PhD in the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She is an authority on the history of rural working-class dress and the history of fashion retailing. She is the author of Dress and Textiles (2002), Fashion for the People: A History of Clothing at Marks and Spencer (2006), Clothing and Landscape (2018) and Fashion and Class (2020). She is a sewer and passionate advocate of ‘slow fashion’.

The Hidden Life of Clothing Historical Perspectives on Fashion and Sustainability, published by Bloomsbury is available to purchase in the Museum and via our online shop.


Upon booking, you will receive an automatic booking confirmation email which includes details on how to access this event. This talk will be live-streamed on Microsoft Teams and you will receive a unique access link via email prior to the event. Ticket sales are suspended two hours before the start of the event.

If you are using a smartphone or tablet, you will need to download the Microsoft Teams app from your relevant app store. Please also ensure that you are using the most recent version of your operating system and that you can access Microsoft Teams so that you will have the best experience.

The talk starts at the time specified above and lasts for approximately 1.5 hours, followed by a Q&A session at the end.

Online events take place live at the time and date specified above. A recording of the online event is not included in the purchase of your ticket. If you are unavailable at the time and date above, please keep an eye on our On Demand page, where all recordings that meet our quality specifications will be available to purchase in due course.

If you have any queries about this event, please get in touch.

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