M&S Company Archive Fashion Design Styling Project


Design students have created innovative outfits from vintage and new Marks & Spencer clothes and accessories as part of their degree.

The project is part of a special collaboration between the University of Leeds and M&S. The retailer's corporate archive of more 70,000 items is moving to a purpose-built facility at the university this March. This state-of-the-art facility will include a public exhibition space, conference facilities and a reading room. 

The archive spans economic, social, artistic and cultural history, and will be made available to staff, students and members of the public for research, teaching, learning and knowledge transfer activities, whilst continuing to be used by M&S.

As part of the School of Design project, final-year fashion design students were asked to conduct individual research on the M&S brand before placing themselves in teams of three and pooling their individual research to inform the development of an inspirational womenswear or menswear styled-outfits. Each group had £100 to purchase vintage M&S garments and accessories from eBay or charity shops.

The remit was that the final outfit should include one garment from the current M&S seasonal range. The groups were asked to source a 'real person' to model in the photoshoot held in the School of Design, and the models selected range in age from 20 to 86-years-old. During the photo shoot, students worked in partnership with the creative team from Vidal Sassoon.

David Backhouse, Senior Teaching Fellow and the Programme Leader for Fashion Design at the University of Leeds, said: "This extra-curricular project has been a fantastic opportunity for students to develop their research skills, while the challenge of producing the outfit to time and budget has also underpinned their professional and management skills.

Being involved in such a high profile industry project will be an excellent addition to our students' CVs." A prize will be given for the best outfit and the winners will be rewarded with a week's work experience at M&S in London, where they will gain invaluable industry knowledge. M&S and University staff will select their favourite outfits for display in the archive - adding to the treasure trove of items available to the public.

The new Michael Marks building - named after the man who founded the company in Leeds - will house the M&S Company Archive and opens in March 2012.

Further information:

Contact: University of Leeds Press Office, +44 113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk