Erin Kwan

Faculty Mentor

Theresa Earenfight, PhD

Faculty Editor

H. Hazel Hahn, PhD

Student Editor

Melissa Schade


Although fashion history and medieval studies have gained popularity among scholars in the past few decades, research on medieval fashion history has not attracted much attention, likely due to the lack of evidence available to modern scholars. There is very little work done on the topic of secondhand clothing in the Middle Ages, but what has been done has revealed a new phenomenon that reshaped the social structure of medieval England. The topic of secondhand clothing in medieval England examines the development of a “middle class” born out of a unique economic event occurring after the Black Plague and tracks the social movement through the creation of a market for secondhand clothing. A close reading and analysis of only three documents revealed hints of a secondhand clothing trade that was selling clothing of good quality and attracting the attention and coin of those in a lower social strata. Through the evidence gleaned from these meager sources, it is clear to see the rise of a new social sector in medieval English society that would not have been able to exist without the circumstances surrounding the Black Plague—all through the topic of secondhand clothing.