Texas Fashion Collection educates community about clothing and history

Texas Fashion Collection educates community about clothing and history

Texas Fashion Collection educates community about clothing and history
January 29
11:21 2018

Thousands of clothes hang in colorful rows throughout the room. Drawers open to reveal jewelry from hundreds of eras. A hat from the 1940s can be seen just a few shelves away from a Victorian pair of shoes.

The Texas Fashion Collection (TFC), operated through the College of Visual Arts and Design, houses more than 20,000 articles of clothing and accessories from various historical periods and designers to educate students about the evolution of fashion.

Beginning in 1938, Stanley and Edward Marcus collected significant pieces of fashion in honor of their aunt, Carrie Marcus Nieman, co-founder of Nieman Marcus. The brothers typically chose garments from international fashion figures who made some impact in the fashion world.

“Maybe they were a model or a very fashionable person who inspired people to dress in a new or interesting way,” TFC Director Annette Becker said. “The Niemans also chose pieces that were very fashion-forward or just indicative of their time.”

In the 1960s, the Dallas Fashion Group also began collecting historic fashion pieces. The two collections merged and moved to a space at the University of North Texas in 1972 after outgrowing the spaces where they were held originally.

“The two groups liked the proximity to Dallas, which was a huge fashion hub at the time, and there was a budding fashion design program at UNT,” Becker said.

While the collection originally preserved examples of high fashion, the focus has now shifted to include a much broader range in style, class and culture. Traditional cultural ensembles, plus size clothing and a suit designed by a Holocaust survivor are among some of the TFC’s notable pieces.

“I think it’s important to preserve pieces that show a diversity of experiences,” Becker said. “We have pieces that don’t just show the lives of people who are privileged, and we try not to focus only on what people in America and Europe have worn.”

Located in a Welch Street Complex, the TFC offers a variety of exhibitions as well as research appointments and tours available for students, community groups and individuals interested in fashion. With topics ranging from athletic and leisure wear to undergarments throughout history, visitors are able to learn about all kinds of pieces.

“We’ve been trying to make it as accessible as possible,” Becker said. “We usually try to have at least one exhibition up at any point in time, and we do a lot of outreach with students in classes.”


Students can visit TFC either with a class or on their own to satisfy their curiosity. Fashion design senior Kaitlyn Raymond visited to study how certain articles of clothing were made and see how the design process has evolved throughout history.

“It was so interesting to get up close and personal with these clothes and try and deconstruct how they were made,” Raymond said.

The collection is not only available for students studying fashion design, but also art, art history, theatre and library science. Whether students are observing how to use certain materials for different articles of clothing or working with the TFC’s database, the collection is a significant resource for various fields.

“It’s a great opportunity that students at other universities don’t have because they don’t have collections like this to work with,” Becker said. “Instead of just going to the library and looking at books or looking at photographs online, they can actually come here and see this stuff in person.”

Even the public can use the TFC as a way to see the beauty of fashionable pieces, learn about the historic significance and study how garments were made. The TFC has hosted women’s groups, quilting guilds and theatre teachers looking for costume inspiration for historical plays.

“I loved seeing all the different materials and patterns used,” Ruth Sommers, a member of a quilting group, said about her visit to the TFC. “It’s so great to have something like this available for anyone to see.”

With the collection’s large variety of clothing and accessories, visitors are likely to find a subject they would like to learn more about. Students looking to utilize the TFC as a study resource or individuals just curious about the world of fashion are welcome to book tours or research appointments to appease their interest.

Featured Image: Various articles of clothing are kept in a storage room at the Texas Fashion Collection in Denton. The Texas Fashion Collection is a unique repository that contains clothing and accessories from various fashion eras served to educate and inspire students and visitors alike. Sara Carpenter

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Ashlee Winters

Ashlee Winters

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