Nicola Miles, the 2021-22 Postgraduate Student Representative for the Centre for Design History, introduces her background, current work and future plans.

Portrait photo of Nicola Miles

I’m delighted to have been appointed as the new Postgrad Student Rep for CDH. For those of you who don’t know me, please allow me to introduce myself.

I have just finished the first year of a full-time PhD focusing on the history of children’s clothes and, specifically,  the innovative home-dressmaking design company Clothkits (1968-1988). Previously I did a BA Textile Design degree at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College and worked freelance as a textile designer for children’s wear, doing card illustration, and working as as a researcher for the Bloomsbury online fashion archive. In 2018, I decided to take a part-time MA in Textiles at Brighton as I had enjoyed my degree so much and I wanted to continue the process of acquiring practical skills and exploring ideas. By using domestic textiles, screen printing and digital print I wanted to give a voice to unspoken issues that affect women including miscarriage, the menopause and being a stepmother. While doing my MA I took a special option in Fashion and Dress History which inspired me to reawaken my Clothkits research project –previously part of my BA dissertation.

Photo of clothkit dressmaking patternsPhotograph of clothkits courtesy of Anne Kennedy

Currently, despite the limitations caused by COVID 19, I have really enjoyed the progress I have made with my research that focuses on a company run primarily by women artists with a legacy of artistic talent that extends from Peggy Angus and her interwar contemporaries to the founders of Clothkits. My project has a particular emphasis on children’s clothing given that Clothkits were part of a re-evaluation of children’s wear that started in the mid-1960s. I have also contributed to a book on Clothkits, which should be published later in 2021.

I am aware of the difficulties and frustrations of not being able to visit museums and archives and meet face-to-face. That is why, as PhD rep, I hope to remedy this to some extent. In order to fully understand what fellow postgraduate students want, I need your input! Please get in touch with any ideas on events and activities you would like to have organised by the Centre for Design History. I am interested to hear from PhD students but also MA students on any courses that intersect with design history, including in the Schools of Art, Architecture and Design, Humanities, Social Science and Media. I would also like to contribute to the initiative of decolonising the curriculum and I would particularly like to hear from students with ideas about activities that could contribute to change.

Please contact me on

Two illustrations by Nicola Miles
Nicola Miles’s designs for her MA Textiles final project.