Dr Rachel Worth is Professor of History of Dress and Fashion at the Arts University Bournemouth, and was visiting professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2012-14). In 2012-13 she was also MERL (Museum of English Rural Life) Research Fellow at the University of Reading.
Her research interests include the history of dress and textiles from the eighteenth century to the present, with a particular emphasis on the history of working-class dress and the retailing of fashion, and the relationship between the history of dress and social class.
Early in her career, Rachel undertook graduate management training at Marks & Spencer and subsequently worked for the company in the knitwear-buying department. She has since researched the M&S clothing archive and wrote Fashion for the People: A History of Clothing at Marks & Spencer (Oxford: Berg, 2007).
Her forthcoming book publications are Clothing and Landscape in Victorian England (I. B. Tauris) and Fashion and Class (Bloomsbury).
Rachel’s academic expertise has wide popular appeal, and she is a frequent speaker at public lectures and museums on the topic of rural and working-class dress and the history of M&S clothing.
Her media appearances include interviews on You & Yours and Thinking Allowed (BBC Radio 4) on the subject of the history of M&S clothing, and she was filmed for the BBC2 series Shopgirls (broadcast July 2014).
She is currently working on a popular history title exploring the realities of 19th-century agricultural life and the provision of clothing in England.
Fashion for the People: A History of Clothing at Marks and Spencer
Marks & Spencer is an institution synonymous with quality, reliability, and customer care. But do we associate it with 'fashion'? Drawing on previously unpublished company archives, Fashion for the People considers the company's contribution to British - and, since the 1970s, international - fashion. The author discusses how, from the 1920s, Marks & Spencer brought fashion to the high street, offering well-designed clothing at affordable prices. Rachel Worth examines the unique ways in which the company has democratized fashion, arguing that its pioneering role in the development of new fabrics, the employment of designers as consultants and its marketing and promotional strategies have changed the ways in which we understand and consume fashion. Marks & Spencer is not just a stalwart of the British high street. As this book shows, it has also brought fashion to the masses.
Berg Publishers, 2007