100 years of Kays catalogue

We were delighted to see this article in the Daily Mail the other day: Changing faces and fashions from 100 years of Kays catalogue.

Emily Allen reports:

"The extracts from the catalogue over the past 100 years have been released as part of a 'Cataloging Kays' project by the University of Worcester which will turn the photos and sketches dating back almost to the Victorian era into 1,500 digital images. 

Their aim is to show how fashion and lifestyle taste have changed over the decades - and give shoppers a glimpse into the changing face of Britain's wardrobe. 

Project manager Jenni Waugh said the Kay's story is important because the catalogues were aimed at 'working people, not glamour goddesses'."

How some of the fashion photographs took us back!

Anita Harris looked especially fab modelling a belted dress for Kays in 1972.

anita harris models for kays

There was some hideous 80s gear, of course, which included the ubiquitous velour tracksuit (worn with heels!)

80s velour tracksuit

But how cute is this 1950s mother daughter look?

1950s mother daughter fashion

The Kays collection includes an almost a full set of mail order catalogues, along with photographs, company accounts, reports and minutes of board meetings.

Excitingly, it is soon to become much more widely accessible thanks to a £55,000 grant to facilitate the creation of an interactive digital web archive. This will not only allow viewing of the archived material but will also allow members of the public to add content by sharing their own memories of Kays catalogue in photographic or anecdotal form.

The BBC also covered the story here: Memories of Kays catalogue shopping. The video is well worth a watch.

What an excellent project!