Andrew Groves is Professor of Fashion Design at the University of Westminster, and the director of the Westminster Menswear Archive, which he founded in 2016. It houses over 2,000 examples of some of the most significant menswear garments from the last 250 years, including designer fashion, streetwear, everyday dress, sportswear, workwear, and uniforms.
Recognising the relative lack of menswear in other fashion and museum collections, the WMA was established to create a significant teaching collection centred on men’s garments that could be used for object-based research by both design students and the fashion industry. A further key aim was to facilitate and publicise the knowledge and understanding of menswear as a distinct design discipline through public engagement and exhibitions.
The collection holds over 2500 menswear garments from 1780 to the present day, with a primary focus on post-1940s British men's dress - clothing produced, designed, worn, or sold in Britain. It includes designer fashion, streetwear, everyday dress, sportswear, workwear, and uniforms. It receives over 800 visitors annually and is utilised for research purposes by students, academics, and designers in industry. It is inspired by Italian garment archives, specifically the Massimo Osti archive which was non-hierarchal, housing military, utilitarian, industrial, and fashion garments together.
In 2019, Groves co-curated Invisible Men: An Anthology from the Westminster Menswear Archive, the United Kingdom’s largest menswear exhibition to date. It investigated the invisibility of menswear as a result of its inherent design language, which focuses on iterations of archetypal garments intended for specific functional, technical, or military use. It demonstrated how designers have disrupted this by making small but significant modifications to produce results that both replicate and subvert their source material.
In 2021, Groves co-curated the exhibition Undercover – From Necessity to Luxury: The Evolution of Face Coverings During COVID-19. It explored how face coverings evolved over the period of a year, from being a functional PPE object in short supply to becoming an everyday object worn by millions. The WMA collected over a hundred examples of face coverings between April 2020 and April 2021, and the exhibition displayed 52 of these face coverings arranged chronologically to examine how the fashion industry rapidly adapted production, manufacturing, and online marketing to meet shifting consumer demands.
He is currently the principal investigator of the AHRC-funded network project, Locating the absent shadow: exploring connections and encounters in British menswear. This international network is designed 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.
Groves’ research focuses on the material culture of menswear and the application of object-based research to generate new knowledge about its design processes, functionalities, and cultural significance.
Historically, fashion research has focused primarily on designer womenswear created for or owned by the elite. This approach has been echoed by museum collections of dress and fashion, which remain highly gendered and almost exclusively focused on elite womenswear to understand the fashioned body. By establishing the first major new teaching collection of the twenty-first century, the Westminster Menswear Archive was intended to rectify this disparity.
The archive includes garments from A-COLD-WALL*, Ahluwalia, Aitor Throup, Alexander McQueen, Aquascutum, Austin Reed, Barbour, Belstaff, Blades, BodyMap, Bukta, Burberry, Burton, C.P. Company, Carol Christian Poell, Christian Dior, Comme Des Garcons, Craig Green, Gieves, Harrods, Irvine Sellars, Jean Paul Gaultier, Joe Casely-Hayford, John Stephens, Kim Jones, Lewis Leathers, Liam Hodges, Martin Margiela, Martine Rose, Masimo Osti, Meadham Kirchhoff, Michiko Koshino, Mr Fish, Nigel Cabourn, Palace, Paul Smith, Prada, Stone Island, Tom Gilby, Tommy Nutter, Umbro, Vexed Generation, and Vivienne Westwood. Researchers from industry include Burberry, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Dunhill, Bottega Veneta, Rapha, Versace, Umbro, and CP Company.
Groves ongoing research has been concerned with the dress practices of football casuals and their subversive bricolage approach to dress as a means of constructing and negotiating shared masculine identities. This was explored in the paper A Casual Obsession: Inside the British Sock Fetish Council and also with his ongoing work exploring the work of Massimo Osti, Stone Island and C.P. Company.
His pedagogical research includes the paper Inside the Westminster Menswear Archive: A case study of garment-research as a pedagogical practice, which examines how the archive has inspired a fundamentally different approach to pedagogical practice for students, replicating contemporary industry methods while also reflecting on how industry engagement with the archive has influenced the archives collection policy.