The exterior of Leeds City Museum showing the banner for Fast x Slow Fashion exhibition


Fast x Slow Fashion explores the relationship between clothes shopping and people in Leeds, from 1720 to the present day. The exhibit shows how clothes shops have changed, but also highlights how people have sought alternative ways to consume fashion.

This exhibition examines ready-to-wear clothing and bespoke garments. Most people today buy ‘fast’ mass produced clothing, which is widely available and not too expensive. In the past most clothes were made for an individual. This is a slower process and a more expensive way of making clothes.

As we face a global climate crisis, some are looking to the past for inspiration on ways to make fashion and shopping for clothes more sustainable.


Ready-to-wear garments have a long history. You could purchase ready-made shoes, petticoats and white shirts in the 1700s.

By the end of the 1800s shops that once sold bespoke garments diversified and started to sell ready-to-wear clothes, as the industry perfected techniques in making. They were cheaper to buy than a tailor-made outfit. Soon buying ready-to-wear became the fashionable way to shop.

Now our high streets are full of recognisable shops seen across the country, which are more affordable than ever before. Customers do not necessarily want a bespoke shopping experience, but a quick and convenient transaction.

Get involved with the exhibition

Fast x Slow Fashion is going to be extended until the winter and we’d like to refresh the displays with new outfits, objects and stories.

We need your help!

If you have any clothes which tell a story of Leeds clothes shopping, we want to know.

We’re looking for stories associated with the 1980s to 2010s, as these dates are underrepresented in the current display.

If you have any clothes that you’ve bought or made in Leeds and you’d like to have a chat about your experiences associated with the making or buying of them, we’d would love to hear from you. This is a chance to get your voice into the exhibition for others to see, share and connect with.

We’re sharing stories on our social media channels each week too. Join in the conversation and let us know if you have any hidden gems in your wardrobes at home.

Please get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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