Marks & Spencer is bringing its textile innovations, developed throughout the retailer’s 130-year history, to Quarry Bank in Styal. 

Working in partnership with the National Trust at Quarry Bank, the M&S Company Archive, which houses over 70,000 historic items from the retailer’s history at the University of Leeds’ Michael Marks Building, has created the ‘Revolutionary Fabrics’ exhibition.

The new exhibition, which is located in the Cotton Gallery, uses items from M&S’ Archive to tell the story of how innovative new materials such as Crimplene, Bri-nylon and Tricel made a huge impact on clothing following World War II.

 The displays showcase a handpicked selection of M&S garments, including previously unseen items, dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.

 Visitors will be able to learn about how M&S has continued to be at the forefront of textile development, from the wonder fabrics pioneered in the first ever fabric research laboratory in 1935, to fabric innovations that have influenced clothing today.

 The exhibition will be on show inside the Mill at Quarry Bank which is renowned for cotton manufacturing in the North West, until October this year.

 From 1960s lingerie to formal Menswear from the 1980s, visitors will have the opportunity to see and touch the fabrics on display. 


Hannah Jenkinson, Archivist at the M&S Company Archive, said “Quarry Bank is one of Britain’s greatest industrial heritage sites so we are delighted that we have been able to add to the displays with our exciting exhibition. ‘Revolutionary Fabrics’ gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about how M&S changed the face of textiles in the UK. From our textile laboratories to our first machine-washable wool garments, people can find out about the innovations throughout our history that we can still see today.”

The M&S Company Archive has a collection of more than 70,000 historic items and was unveiled at the University of Leeds’ Michael Marks Building in March 2012. 

The permanent Marks in Time exhibition celebrates the role that M&S has played in peoples’ lives since 1884 and charts the development of the iconic British retailer from its roots at Kirkgate Market to the present day.


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