Yorkshire suit is made to measure for Big Apple’s fashion exhibition

Leeds Industrial Museum
Amy Jenkinson , assistant curator of industrial history out the finishing touches to the suit at Leeds Industrial Museum

For a Yorkshireman returning home after the Second World War, it was tailor made to help him take his first sartorial steps back into civilian life.

And today a dapper demob suit from Leeds has also proved to be the perfect fit for a celebration of fabulous fashion at one of the world’s biggest arts institutions.

The Burtons demob suit, originally made in 1945, travelled more than 5,000 miles across the pond from Leeds Industrial Museum and is now being displayed in New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

The suit, usually on display in Leeds Industrial Museum’s Tailoring Gallery, is currently being shown as part of MOMA’s Items: Is Fashion Modern? exhibition, which displays 111 garments and accessories that have had a profound effect on the world over the last century.

Demob suits were a suit of civilian clothes given to a man on his demobilisation from the British armed forces at the end of the Second World War.

Other exhibits in New York include a Vivienne Westwood kilt, some Levi jeans from 1947 and a Wonderbra from the early 1990s.

The loan has been made ahead of Leeds Industrial Museum’s annual Wool Week, which this year features an exciting extended programme of activities running until October 22.

Sarah Barton, keeper at Leeds Industrial Museum said:

“We’re very proud and excited that this beautiful piece of our local fashion and textile heritage is playing a part in such a prestigious exhibition in one of the biggest cities in the world.

“Yorkshire has been a global leader in fashion and textiles for centuries, and our own Armley Mills, where the museum stands today, was one the biggest woollen mill in the world so it’s fantastic that that legacy is continuing today.

“Our Wool Week celebrations are about celebrating and remembering the impact of the textile pioneers of the past as well as highlighting some of the incredible, creative and imaginative work still going on in Yorkshire today.”

Other activities for Wool Week at Armley include tours of the museum’s Textile Gallery on Sept 17, 18 and 19 at 2pm and The Spinners of Aire demonstrating on Sept 18 from 10.30am to 2pm. A special matinee showing of Knitting Pretty takes place on Sept 17 and 19 at 2pm.

There will also be a chance to see some of the Armley Weave projects and wool work inspired by the Joseph Beuys collection at the newly-reopned Leeds Art Gallery, along with a recreation of the classic Burtons demob suit  on October 22, supported by Yorkshire Textiles and A.W Hainsworth.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said:

“The fact that one of our exhibits is being featured in one of the world’s foremost arts establishments is a tribute to the scope and quality of our collection in Leeds.

“It also highlights the hugely important role the city has played in the history of textiles and fashion and it’s wonderful that we continue to celebrate the talent and expertise which flourishes in the city today.”

For more information about Leeds Industrial Museum please visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills