|Title||Locating Menswear – A Non-Hierarchical Exploration of Place and Community.|
|Authors||Groves, Andrew, Sprecher, Danielle, Jenkinson, Jo and Owen, Paul|
Locating Menswear is an AHRC-funded network established in 2022 with the objective of bringing together academics, curators, designers, retailers, fashion industry professionals and local stakeholders to investigate the connections, relationships, and interactions between the local, national, and international menswear industries and communities.
The network is framed by the concerns of the Westminster Menswear Archive (WMA), a unique teaching collection held by the University of Westminster that takes a non-hierarchical approach to collecting menswear and includes designer fashion, streetwear, everyday dress, sportswear, workwear, and uniforms. It aims to overcome the gender and high-fashion biases inherent in the majority of fashion museum collections and fashion education.
Menswear remains understudied in fashion research in comparison to womenswear, with scholarship on British menswear focusing on narratives of tailoring and tradition; the dandy and the spectacular; and London. This network seeks to challenge these preoccupations by interrogating the fashion practices of the inhabitants of four key locations. The network’s innovative approach is designed to engage with previously overlooked menswear communities and creators, collaborating with non-academic participants and practitioners, including those outside the fashion industry. The networks activities are contextualised by a series of menswear exhibitions that are occurring concurrently with the workshops, Fashioning Masculinities in London, Art of the Terraces in Liverpool and Dandy Style in Manchester but seeks to attract unexpected menswear audiences and surface the unheard and unseen.
This paper will discuss the non-hierarchical methodology developed by the WMA and how it has been employed to investigate regional communities centred on menswear. It will provide a summary of initial findings from the network's first three workshops held in London, Liverpool, and Manchester, as well as an examination of some of the challenges associated with engaging hidden menswear communities that are sceptical and resistant to engaging with fashion academics.