The Industrial Revolution fundamentally changed the commercial and social landscape of the modern world. During the long nineteenth century mechanized manufacturing, accelerated modes of production and innovative trades and industries created employment possibilities for an increasingly professionalized workforce.

While factory and clerical workers, sales assistants, parlour maids, trade unionists and other members of a newly established workforce faced changing working hours and environments, a radical transformation of clothes and costumes paralleled this revolution in trades and industries. New vocations required new vestments and uniforms. The Dress Reform Movement advocated a more health-conscious attitude toward clothes and garments. Social mobility expressed itself in new sartorial patterns and specific uniforms or dresses became the markers of professional identity and social mobility. The fashion industry with Paris as its centre developed into an influential new market force while the affordability of mass-produced clothing launched the ready-to-wear industry. At the turn of the twentieth century the histories of dress and labour shared many common threads.

This interdisciplinary network brought together scholars from across the Humanities and the Social Sciences in a series of linked workshops and public events to investigate the significance of clothes and costumes in the development of professional communities at the turn of the twentieth century.

With its emphasis on the history of social reform, clothing and identity, the Tailored Trades project has developed links to the Histories of Activism research group. The project has also developed symbiotic relations with the University of Exeter and Dorset County Museum research project Thomas Hardy and Clothing