Imperial College London

Anna Nyburg: The Clothes on our Backs


Book cover

In her new book, released this month, Anna Nyburg reveals how Jewish refugees brought design to the British clothing industry.

The Clothes on our Backs: How Refugees from Nazism Revitalised the British Fashion Trade, published by Vallentine Mitchell this month, tells the unknown stories of Jews in the clothing industry who sought asylum in Britain when the Nazis came to power in the 1930s.

The Clothes on our Backs cover

Anna Nyburg's book tells of the recruitment of refugee clothiers to British companies and the influence they had over the industry: the technology, practices, and designs - including the twinset, the beret, the Pringle sweater and more.

The Clothes on Our Backs also reflects on the post-war contributions of some of the clothiers and their formal recognition within the British fashion and arts scenes.

The book is currently available for purchase from selected bookshops, including Blackwell's and Waterstones.

The London book launch of The Clothes on our Backs will take place on Thursday 20 February at Waterstones, Clapham Junction. 

This is a well-written, well-researched and entertaining book on a wholly original subject: how the refugees from Nazism influenced and reinvigorated the 20th Century British fashion industry. Charmian Brinson, MA, PhD Emeritus Professor of German, Imperial College London

Anna Nyburg is a CLCC Honorary Lecturer. She has taught German, Italian and French as well as running the Imperial College Evening Class programme until 2018. Anna has published widely and co-produced a film on refugee designers in 2017. She is a committee member and editor of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, University of London.


Cleo Bowen

Cleo Bowen
Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication