Nieuwe Instituut


26 March 2023 until 10 September 2023


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Originally purely functional, workwear evolved to protect and support the wearer while performing heavy tasks. Today, it is a powerful symbol of the ‘working class’ with an unavoidable presence on the street and the catwalk.

Vintage & future

In Workwear you can see vintage classics, current highlights and futuristic experiments from a wide range of designers and artists. There are X-rays of Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing suit next to the ‘space suit’ with zip-off legs worn by members of the Dutch Provo movement. An original over-shirt by Arts and Crafts designer William Morris hangs not far from Red Coat, Nicola L’s 11-person rain suit, and Maria Blaisse’s Flexicap seems to nod to a textile sculpture by Franz Erhard Walter. An Italian Futurist overall by Thayaht and theatre costumes from the Russian avant-garde show how their designers imagined the future based on work clothes.


At the request of fashion researcher and curator Eldina Begic and the Nieuwe Instituut, spoken-word artist Elten Kiene and fashion designer Sam Cruden of Rotterdam label C. Cruden are creating new pieces especially for Workwear. They ask themselves, and the visitor, how workwear might look in the future.


Wherever people do heavy or dangerous work, special clothing is essential for protection and to make the job easier. Super-sturdy trousers and jackets, helmets, overalls, gloves and goggles are all part of the kit. Designers are often involved in creating these work garments, especially when they are produced on a large scale.


Some work clothes need no description: a number like M-65 or 501 is enough to summon up visions of a camo jacket or a denim classic. From the assembly line, the mineshaft or the army training ground, items like these have gone on to win places in museum collections. Designers like Massimo Osti have translated them into clothing-store staples; fashion pioneers like Elsa Schiaparelli have turned them into luxury couture.

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26 March 2023 until 10 September 2023

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Nieuwe Instituut

Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam
Plan route Plan route

010 - 44 01 200

Open today until 17:00

Opening hours next week
Day Opening hours
Wed 10:00 - 17:00
Thu 10:00 - 21:00
Fri - Sun 10:00 - 17:00
Mon Closed
Overview of opening hours

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