This is a fantastic collection of images which highlights the social and cultural contexts of the 20th century. The catalogue images show the lifestyles that people were meant to aspire to. Someone who worked at Kays, informs me that the fur coats didn’t usually sell at all well, but they were usually included because the fur was a sign of luxury, wealth and sophistication – the kind of lifestyle which people were supposed to aspire to. You can also clearly see different trends appearing over time, such as the influence of films on merchandising, and the  rise of brands and sports wear. Overall this is an exciting collection of images which I am sure will be of interest to many people.

In this short film, find out more about the value of the Kays archive as a source for research:

A resource for Students from Jonathan Lee on Vimeo.

Blog contributed by Dr Barbara Mitra, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Worcester. 

Barbara contributed to the academic development of the World of Kays project and is currently editing a collection of essays about the impact of Kay & Co Ltd on the development of 20th century consumer culture (due for publication later in 2012).  With Dr Mehreen Mirza, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts, she wrote and delivered a paper at the Catalogue of Dreams conference: ‘Gendered images, gendered ideology: an exploration of gender in the images of Kays Catalogue, 1920-1990′.