Archive photograph of Schofields shop in Leeds

08 Aug 2019

Historic images showing the changing face of Leeds’s high street have been revealed ahead of a new exhibition telling the story of the city’s one of a kind retail revolution.

The remarkable photos show Leeds landmarks including Briggate and The Headrow as they looked in the 1870s, early 20th century and 1970s.

It is hoped they will capture the imaginations of shoppers past and present and encourage them to contribute to the upcoming fashion-themed exhibition at Leeds City Museum.

Fast x Slow Fashion: Shopping for clothes in Leeds, 1720-2020 will explore how and why shopping for clothes has changed over more than 300 years and how a voracious passion for fashion saw Leeds grow to become one of the country’s biggest modern retail destinations.

Curators are asking for help picking out some key outfits, photographs or memories of shopping in Leeds which will then be used to showcase the different ways people shopped for clothes from the 18th Century, when the city was a key part of the textile trade, to the 21 Century, which has seen the opening of some of Europe’s biggest shopping complexes.

Contributors can submit everything from eye-catching clothes and nostalgic photographs to personal stories about Leeds and its constantly evolving retail offering.

Vanessa Jones, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ assistant curator of costume and textiles, said: “Fashion and retail have been cornerstones of Leeds and its economy for hundreds of years, with Yorkshire being a global leader in the textile trade and the birthplace of some of the world’s most recognisable clothing brands.

“It’s our hope that with the public’s help, we can capture some of the more personal stories associated with Leeds’s retail scene and show how shopping in our city has changed.”

As well as looking at the city’s retail scene, the exhibition will examine the rise of ‘fast fashion’ and the growing calls for more sustainably produced clothing.

Alongside submissions from the public, displays will also include some of Leeds Museums and Galleries’ most fascinating historic fashions.

Public submissions could include memories of clothes shopping in Leeds, garments worn and purchased in Leeds now, photographs of people shopping in Leeds or different ways people shop, both online or by hitting the high street.

Curators would particularly like examples of clothing that was bought during Whitsuntide, clothing that was bought or worn at a NoLoGo event in 1994 and anything that was purchased in a Leeds based department stores, particularly Lewis’ and Schofields.

Fast x Slow Fashion: Shopping for clothes in Leeds, 1720 – 2020.will be at Leeds City Museum next February. To get involved and share your photos and memories, tag #LeedsThreads on social media or email

Image: Schofields Ltd, c. 1910, photograph. black and white photograph, Schofields department store with window displays of lace collars, blouses etc., No. 1 Victoria Arcade, about 1910


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