'when women wore the trousers'


White Line Projects collaborated with BBC Radio 4 producer, Belinda Naylor, to conceive a documentary entitled 'When Women Wore the Trousers', aired 9th June 2017.

In this documentary, presenter Laura Barton explores the little known story of a pioneering group of women who unknowingly challenged conventional notions of femininity and their working roles. The Pit Brow Lasses worked within the collieries of 19th century Wigan, Lancashire. Their unique re-appropriation of men's 'breeches' worn underneath hitched up skirts was originally adopted as a functional response to working within mines.

With readings from the actor Maxine Peak, a discussion with Pit Brow Lass, Rita Culshaw about her choice of clothing in the pits and interviews with fashion curators Amy de la Haye and WLP's own Fiona McKay and Wigan historian Alan Davies, as well as fashion designers Faye Toogood and chef Angela Hartnett, the documentary discovers how women have worn trousers as a means of empowerment and the enduring appeal of work-wear in contemporary fashion.

The Pit Brow Lasses and their relevance to contemporary fashion, was first explored in 2013 by White Line Projects, in an article for concept magazine SHOWROOM Publication by The Vintage Showroom, a London based menswear archive, which is distributed to design houses worldwide such as Paul Smith and Burberry. 

For more information and images on the Pit Brow Lasses and their contemporary relevance, see here. The documentary is available to listen here.

Images Left to Right:

Pit Brow Lass, Wigan c. 1860,  Courtesy of Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge.

The Sculptor Trouser, Toogood Unisex Outerwear.