The Clothes On Our Backs
By the time World War Two broke out in 1939, some 80,000 refugees fleeing the Nazis had arrived in Britain, most of them Jewish. Those who worked in the textile trade brought new technology, products and designs and and more positive approach to exporting. They also brought new design traditions with them, especially if they had trained before coming, perhaps at Berlin’s famous Reimann School, itself a refugee to London in 1937.
Some refugees settled in Yorkshire, one of the world’s major textile manufacturing centres, and Leeds University Textile Department was the place to study textile design. One alumnus was the celebrated Hungarian designer, Tibor Reich, who brought much needed colour and style to British homes after the war. Many others, including Isaak Donner, Joseph Kagan and Hans Schneider made significant contributions to the worlds of textiles, fashion and design.
Image: Spaceflight by Tibor Reich, 1957, the same year as the Sputnik satellite, courtesy of Sam Reich.