Fashion archive fervour: The critical role of fashion archives in preserving, curating, and narrating fashion

Anne Frances Peirson-Smith*, Ben Peirson-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Fashion items and artefacts across the 19th and 20th centuries were once considered unworthy of placement in museums and archives on account of their perishable nature and their association with the shallow pleasures of low culture. The perceived fragile and ephemeral nature of fashion garments and accessories has been re-evaluated with material objects now considered worth saving for multiple purposes and uses. Awareness of the high social, cultural, economic, and historic value of physical fashion relics has resulted in the trend for fashion designers, brands, and museums to collate, create, and manage fashion archives. The article analyses the importance for both industry and consumer of preserving and accessing fashion archives in the 21st century in both digital and traditional ways. It highlights the benefits of collating a holistic multi-modal archive by combining material and textual cultural objects in various forms to portray and contextualize the lived social experience. A case study will analyse a selected educational fashion archive based in postcolonial Hong Kong. The contemporary fashion archive’s role is evaluated from the perspective of archivist and user regarding contested issues such as commercialization, curatorial objectivity, or controlled access, while evaluating future directions for the fashion archive as ultimate style repository.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-298
JournalArchives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

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