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The Benefactory


As we see massive queues around city blocks toward the doors of sports shops and fast fashion retailers... what if wasn't 2020? what if it was 1893? Where would people be lined up? (Asked nobody)⠀

Well here’s the answer! ⠀

Welcome to the Benefactory! If you needed a jaunty sports jacket, some fine breeches matched with a knee length stocking or a trumpeted shape skirt suitable for day time bicycling this was the place to be. ⠀

The 1890s saw the rise of sportswear in fashion. And the Benefactory was the Sports Direct of the 19th century Morley Town. ⠀

Led by the invention of the drop-frame safety bicycle, which allowed women the opportunity to ride bicycles more comfortably, there was a need for appropriate clothing. So, women rejected corsets in favour of more comfortable attire... free flowing skirts and dresses... high collar shirts, jackets and even the odd pair of ‘trousers’.... outrageous! ⠀

This was the ‘naughty nineties’ after all. ⠀

For men the blazer made its entrance... a navy blue or brightly colored or striped flannel jacket cut like a sack coat with patch pockets and brass buttons. Worn for sports, sailing, and other casual activities, it was adopted in everyday life to tell people without asking... yes sir... I certainly spend much time on the water... casually. ⠀

Although... Sports Direct may be an unfair comparison... The Benefactory was built and owned by Frederick Tesseyman, a draper who famously took care of his workers and the workers of Morley... being the man responsible for a half day closing of shops in Morley... ⠀

Perhaps so those in his employ could enjoy an afternoon bicycle ride or even a spot of sailing? ⠀

The Benefactory was an entirely different breed of fast fashion.

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