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Houston Community College Foundation

HCC Fashion Archive Capital Improvement Plan

Houston Community College (HCC) Fashion Archive seeks funding to digitize 10% of an 8,500-piece physical collection stored at the HCC Central Campus. Digital access will expand the audience of local, national, and international interested parties.
raised of US$75,000 target
RCN 741885205

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Creating a searchable database for this collection is an innovative marriage of technology and history. We are using 21st Century expertise to make these important, historical garments accessible to all. There is nothing like this in Houston. - Erica Hubbard, Director, Library Services, HCC Central

Houston Community College (HCC) Fashion Archive seeks funding to digitize 10% of an 8,500-piece physical collection stored at the HCC Central Campus. Digital access will expand the audience of local, national, and international interested parties. Digitization of this collection helps preserve the treasures for preservation, study, and inspiration for all virtual visitors of the site. HCC is digitizing pieces that reduce or completely eliminate access to the actual item for preservation while allowing for close examination of costumes and textiles as well as developing time period exhibits. For example, see the 1950s exhibit at:

The Archive goes beyond academia, providing reference and inspiration to fashion enthusiasts, fashion historians, fashion collectors, and anyone interested in historical costumes.

The Fashion Archive was started in 1988 when legendary fashion designer, Kay King, a native Houstonian, became the department head of the Fashion Design program at HCC. The Archive grew from a few dress racks to roughly 8,500 pieces in almost thirty years. In 2021, the Archive expanded to 2,500 square footage with a dedicated photography studio on site. Approximately 80% of the Fashion Archive has been inventoried to date; however, only 12% with any standard archival description and arrangement.

The physical Archive is primarily comprised of a rare, historical collection of 4,000 costumes donated in 2009 by the late Elizabeth S. Brown, one of the founding members of the Costume Society of America and a nationally renowned fashion historian.

The Archive comprises the following five collections: the Historical Fashion collection, Traditional Costume, the Alumni collection, the Textiles collection, which includes antique hand sewing and ancient fabric dying techniques from Asia, and the Department Store Photograph collection. HCC also uses the Archive to highlight emerging fashion designers from the area and fashion trends from various cultures in Texas, as evident from the Traditional Costume collection.

Excessive handling over the years has damaged many of the fragile, historic garments and dresses in the collection. Therefore, access has been restricted to HCC faculty in recent years for preservation purposes further underscoring the importance of expanded digital access to the historical collections.

For over two decades, the Fashion Design program at HCC has received local, regional and national recognition in addition to students and alumni winning multiple national and international design competitions, including Project Runway Season 2 and Season 18, MFAH Fashion Fusion Design Competition, DMC Runway Challenge, and the Shelly Musselman Fashion Design Award.

The Archive remains a teaching tool for all and digital access to the Collection was especially important for students during the COVID-19 College closure. According to Google Analytics, access to the site increased 219% from 2018 to 2021. A portion of the collections in the Archive will also be available through Google's Art & Culture platform beginning Spring of 2023.

The Fashion Archive, physically located at 3601 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77004, on the HCC Central campus, is an archive of historical and contemporary clothing, accessories, and textiles illustrating important trends in the past two hundred and fifty years of fashion history. The Archive is maintained by HCC for the inspiration and instruction of the College's fashion faculty, their students, residents of Greater Houston, national and international audiences.

HCC is only one of two community colleges in the United States with a digital fashion archive. The Digital Fashion Archive is powered by HCC Libraries.

Your support of the HCC Fashion Archive will advance the preservation of Fashion History in Houston and inspire the careers of future fashion designers from this world-class city. Funds will be used for a museum studies internship, a part-time archives assistant, part-time photographer, preservation supplies, marketing, and display/storage cases.

Thank you for helping us preserve this historic cultural treasure for future generations of fashion students and patrons throughout the world!

About the charity

The Houston Community College Foundation supports HCC in its efforts to attract and educate Houston-area students with the desire and the dedication to learn - including many non-traditional students and those facing barriers to higher education.

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