Clothing design in Queensland: the Queensland Museum collection

Page from Pike Brothers catalogue Page from Pike Brothers catalogue Exterior of Finney and Isles store in Brisbane Exterior of Finney and Isles store in BrisbaneClothing retail in Queensland saw dramatic changes in the nineteenth century. During the first ten years of the colony, clothing was supplied by a small number of draperies and warehouses. By 1882 retailing had undergone enormous change. Small over-crowded drapery shops were transformed into multi-storey department stores. In addition to dressmaking, millinery and tailoring services, many department stores established specialised outerwear, underwear and clothing accessory departments.

The clothing collection at the Queensland Museum includes high fashion and everyday clothing worn by men, women and children, as well as academic, ceremonial, civil, and ethnic dress from 1775 to 2008. The collection is supplemented by clothing accessories, headwear and footwear.


Although more than a thousand dressmakers were operating in Brisbane during the latter part of the nineteenth century, very few of the garments these women designed and made have survived. The Queensland Museum collection includes examples of the work of Mrs Janet Walker who worked in the city from 1882 to 1938.

Queensland Department Stores

The collection includes examples of garments from the following Queensland Department stores:

  • Allan & Stark
  • T. C. Beirne & Co.
  • Finney Isles & Co.
  • Gallagher & Co.
  • Grimes and Petty
  • Murray & Magee
  • Overell & Sons
  • Pike Brothers
  • Stewart & Co.

Contemporary Designers

In 2008 the museum began to acquire contemporary garments designed by Queensland fashion designers. Work by more recent designers includes:

  • Anna Bourke
  • Keri Craig
  • Darb Couture
  • Deons
  • Gwen Gillam
  • Harvey Graham
  • Elma Hanley
  • Paula Gubar
  • Kim Hodges
  • Marsha Mayne
  • Paula Stafford
  • Tengdahl Australia
  • Wendy Wright

Textile Collection

Lace nightdress from QM Collection Lace nightdress from QM Collection Knitted child’s dress from QM Collection Knitted child’s dress from QM Collection

In addition to the clothing collection Queensland Museum has a small textile collection, which includes:

  • ceremonial textiles, 
  • embroidery, 
  • household linen, 
  • lace, and
  • printed textiles.

You may also be interested in:

  • Janet Walker, costumiere
  • Paula Stafford, swimwear designer
  • Patrick Oglivie, milliner
  • Gwen Gillam, fashion designe
  • Olive Ashworth, textile designer

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.