Explore Fashion Through the Pages with World of Kays

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A Kays-inspired fancy dress competition, fashion shows and family activities will be the focus of a special event at the Commandery in Worcester this weekend.

The University of Worcester’s World of Kays project team, in partnership with Museums Worcestershire, are taking over the Commandery on Saturday, 10th September as part of English Heritage’s Heritage Open Days.

The free, family-friendly event, which runs between 11am and 4pm, includes opportunities for visitors to design and make their own fashion accessories or to transform themselves into Kays catalogue models throughout the decades.

The Fancy Dress competition is open to entrants of all ages. Take your inspiration from the catalogues and come in vintage gear or dressed as an astronaut, cowboy, superstar or princess. Register your entry by 2.15pm; the final parade and judging takes place at 2.30pm. There’s no age limit for entrants so dig out your flares.

Three fashion shows will explore the ‘Ages through the Pages’ and are inspired by the wonderful clothes displayed in the Kays catalogues.  They are being produced by Jo Waterhouse of Worcester Arts & Vintage Events and Clare Bridge of Second Hand Rose. 

Recordings of former Kays staff, interviewed for the forthcoming World of Kays website, will be available to hear on the day. 

Visitors will also have the chance to contribute their own memories of Kays, or of their own fashion hits and misses, and to browse catalogues and memorabilia for themselves. 

Bernard Mills, Chair of Kays Heritage Group will be around in the afternoon to deliver an illustrated talk about the history of Kays & Co Ltd and the impact it had on the people of Worcester. 

Worcester Live will be performing Worcester: City of Liberty during the day.

Project manager Jenni Waugh said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the Museums Worcestershire team to create the World of Kays. The Commandery has never looked so stylish!”

Programme details are available by email at , by phone at 01905 855535 or by following us on Facebook  or Twitter @WorldofKays.   


‘World of Kays’ is a JISC-funded project run by a University of Worcester team to create an online resource, based around digitalised images from the catalogues and contributions from the public. The website will explore the impact of Kays of Worcester on shaping the nation’s lifestyle and clothing choices from 1920 to 2000. 

Project manager Jenni Waugh said: “The website will be a fantastic resource for community historians and fashion enthusiasts alike. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make the history of Kays more available.”

Until the website is launched, members of the public can find out more about the World of Kays and how to get involved via Facebook at  or following @WorldofKays on Twitter.

Bernard Mills is Chair of Kays Heritage Group ( ).  Mr Mills was responsible for rescuing the Kays business archive and has ensured its long term future by depositing it in the Research Collections at the University.

The Commandery is run by Museums Worcestershire.  It is a unique Grade 1 listed site dating back to 13th century and holds a special place in the history of Worcester and Britain.  A truly fascinating mixture of historical architecture and social history combine to bring these very special buildings’ colourful past to life: