Women Climbers and Their Clothing: What can we learn from historical sources and industrial practice?

Timeframe: 2018-2021

This project aims to synthesise the knowledge gained from engaging with historical artefacts and literary sources with the commercial experience of a designer of outdoor performance clothing. Focusing on the historical clothing and textiles worn by female mountaineers in particular, the aim is to achieve a clearer understanding of how they overcame the physical challenges of the environment and the social challenges of a male- dominated society.

The research qualitatively explores how women’s clothing for climbing and mountaineering may have been specifically designed, cut and constructed, possibly through using the bias grain of the cloth and the inherent properties of the textiles, to enhance and facilitate freedom of movement in pursuing outdoor activities.

Through examining and analysing the pattern cutting and construction techniques of garments in archives and reviewing written firsthand accounts, the aim is to produce a new understanding, grounded in evidence, of how functionality was a consideration in garment design and choice of textiles during a distinct historical period.