Origins: Dress and Textiles Series (2018-2019)

Men and women have always adorned themselves with a variety of animal and plant products for various purposes, including protection, decoration, group identification, and status. The manipulation of these resources to form apparel, accessories, and textiles has evolved over the millennia from hand methods to mechanized technologies. Today, there exists a multi-trillion dollar global industry that employs hundreds of millions of people and utilizes incredible amounts of raw materials and natural resources.

The raw animal and plant resources that constituted the original forms of human adornment are still used and often exploited within today’s apparel and textile industry. The Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection (MHCTC) highlights each of these raw materials in an exhibition series titled Origins – Dress and Textiles. Campus and digital exhibitions provide access to over 400 dress and textile artifacts of natural and synthetic origins, as well as sustainable and environmentally-friendly Alternatives. As we become increasingly removed from the production of what we wear, Origins- Dress and Textiles reminds us of the natural sources from which our adornment derives. Click below to access each exhibition.

Boots from Endangered exhibit

ENDANGERED: FAUNA AND FASHION (2018) explores past and present use of animals as sources of raw materials in dress, including fur, leather, feather, shell, bone, and more!

Vest from Flora and Fashion exhibit

FLORA AND FASHION (2019) explores the use of plants – cotton, flax, bark, pineapple, maize, and more – as textile fibers and dyes! Online exhibition coming soon!


ALTERNATIVES: In a world where natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce and environmental and social awareness are on the rise, fashion designers are driven to explore alternatives to current methods and materials used in the apparel manufacturing industry.