The Inventors of Tradition profiles traditional garments and social histories
Exhibition charts history of textile industry in Scotland
That ubiquitous ‘Scotland with Style’ byline invented by city marketing in Glasgow gets renewed historical validation in this exhibition that is many things woven into one. Inventors of Tradition is an archival show of the Scottish textiles industry since the 1930s, observed through a contemporary – somewhat unfashionable – lens, including vintage and new collections of clothing and accessories, displayed within a disused retail unit as a nod to the recent pop-up shop trend.
Conceived and organised by Catriona Duffy and Lucy McEachan of Panel, an independent company that promotes design and craft through animating spaces beyond the gallery, and Becca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie of Atelier, who in turn, produce beautiful artisan vernacular interiors responsible to the environment and local suppliers; the exhibition tells a story of the social history of Glasgow. It is a fascinating subjective study of the textiles industry with many objects from people’s personal collections.
These paraphernalia are laid out in glass vitrines, pinned up on panels, and coat-hangered on rails. They tell anecdotes of the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydeback, reveal a pair of 70s woven culottes by EY Johnston, and display record sleeves designed by The Cloth, a collective founded by GSA graduates, which was also responsible for designing the original interior of the Sub Club. Their clothing line was also on sale at visionary trailblazer, The Warehouse. Housed where Peckhams on Glassford Street sits today, this avant garde department store introduced a new retail experience for eager Glaswegian shoppers, bringing designer brands to the city. Upstairs in the café they sold bottled water, luxury hot chocolate and old fashioned Irn Bru in chunky bottles.
A circle of mannequins parade the new collection of clothing made in collaboration with well established design companies. Further to the back a gorgeous dressing screen cordons off a section that shows a reel of archival films.
Although traditional garments and their social histories are the focus here, the show also suggests that its organisers are inventing a tradition of the future. How many of the high street labels – Primark, H&M and New Look – will stand the test of time?
21 Stockwell Street, Glasgow, until Sat 26 Feb