Archives Awareness: Fashion Archivist

MARA Blog

Published: March 22, 2019 By Katie Kuryla

Did you ever imagine that there could be a position for an archivist in the fashion industry? Between hanging a knit dress and storing shoes in plastic bins, there are many ways to accidentally ruin fashion pieces but Julie Ann Clauss is a fashion archivist who works to help people properly store their clothing.

The Wardrobe is a fashion archive company that caters to the needs of top designers, celebrities, socialites, and private individuals. While Clauss is the founder of The Wardrobe, she also works as the fashion archive partner at premier storage facility UOVO which features climate-controlled storage and viewing rooms.

UOVO is known for storing artwork but Clauss says that textiles like clothes are more susceptible to climate and temperature-related damage. Knit and jersey items need to be laid flat or else they get stretched out on a hanger but when a dress comes in that has feathers and is knit, she works with the client to see which options best meet their needs and maximize the item’s longevity.

A great feature for The Wardrobe, is that clients can view pieces they are currently storing in the facility through a digital archive. Clauss also gives the option that to ship clothing, same day in New York or next day anywhere else.

Clauss also gives tips on how to store clothing at home.  She says people often store items in plastic bins, but that traps the air in the bin and causes fibers to break down. She adds that people typically use thin hangers to maximize storage, but that ruins shoulders and necklines, so she recommends thicker hangers. She adds that it’s important to maintain a well-vacuumed and well-lit closet, as well as refrain from putting clothes away dirty, in order to avoid bugs. However, not all clothing needs to be dry-cleaned—she says the solvents can be tough on the material, so sometimes it’s better to let a piece air out for a few days. If there is a stain on an article of clothing, though, then it needs to be dry-cleaned to avoid pests.

Closets also shouldn’t be placed near bathrooms to avoid humidity fluctuations. If clothing is being stored someplace other than a closet, a basement is preferred to an attic because attics trap heat—however, neither are great choices because basements are damp.

As for how long clothing can last when stored properly: “I can’t see them not lasting forever, whereas you can very quickly damage something in a very short amount of time if you’re storing it improperly,” she notes.

Although there are small ways people can make their clothing last longer at home, an archival facility like UOVO is necessary for longevity.

Listing to Clauss speak about how to store clothes reminds me a lot of how we talk about records. Where we should be storing documents and how. It is great to know that if you are passionate about fashion and passionate about archives, you can merge both. Would you want to be a fashion archivist?