Hainsworth: A History in Costume

6th April 2021

Costume design can make or break a production. Designers who are able to immerse the audience in a story and build a world which is authentic through each characters’ wardrobe, don’t just allow actors to embody a persona, they bring a whole production to life. Vast amounts of research and planning goes into each garment, including the careful selection of fabrics and how they can help to define each character.

Costumes tell us a great deal about the time and place in which a production is set. The Costume Designer must consider the style of the time down to the last detail, exploring silhouettes, hemlines, colours, necklines, even the underwear worn and how it gave a garment structure.

In period pieces, historical accuracy is essential. Authentic costumes put an actor in a specific time, place, and mindset, helping them to get into character and deliver a more credible performance. A dress with a corset and full skirt straightens the back, and makes the wearer carefully consider how she holds herself and moves around the set. A military uniform tailored in genuine fabric of the period allows the character to embody a soldier of that era. 

When it comes to authentic costume fabrics for stage and screen, Hainsworth has been the industry’s first choice for over 50 years. Our woollen mill is responsible for the look of iconic England all the way back to the scarlet uniforms of the Battle of Waterloo. Our costume fabric range enables designers to make a true connection to a production’s historic roots through access to genuine historical cloth.

The Hainsworth family have been producing woven woollen textiles in Yorkshire since 1783; from the invention of the Khaki Serge in 1899 to the distinctive blue uniforms of the RAF, Hainsworth cloth has its roots firmly in British history. Our heritage makes us the natural choice for Costume Designers looking for genuine authenticity, but also those who value outstanding quality, vivid colours and consistency that can be relied upon.

Hainsworth costume fabrics are used in costume design from traditional to modern and have been used to bring characters to life in Oscar winning films, Broadway musicals and critically acclaimed operas, for many years. Here are some of our favourites:

1985 Les Misérables (first opens in the West End)

1989 Batman

1993 Sharpe’s Rifles

1997 Titanic

2001 Harry Potter

2007 War Horse

2011 Thor

2015 Cinderella

2015 Jupiter Ascending

2017 The Darkest Hour


2020 The Crown

Hainsworth’s costume fabrics allow designers to bring a little piece of Hainsworth heritage and authenticity to their production. View the range here.