117 – Fashion Historian Patricia Mears


Fashion Historian Patricia Mears

Patricia Mears is the Deputy Director of The Museum at FIT, and author of numerous Fashion Studies books.

Fashion historian Patricia Mears is in the studio with us this week, talking about The Museum at FIT, and her historical perspective on the fashion business now vs. decades past.


Who collects clothing and other bits of fashion and preserves it in private fashion history collections or donates it to museums? What is the dollar value of rarer pieces, and has that changed in the last couple years? What is the most active hot spot for original global street style? Is there a need for multiple smart curatorial voices in fashion studies? How is fashion being absorbed by consumers and the culture today? How do we identify names of fashion design and construction geniuses whose work has now been more or less forgotten? How does Patricia Mears, fashion historian, define the characteristics of the overall collection held by the Museum at FIT?

Now vs. Then:

“I think it’s going to continue to be tough. If you read some of the quotes and interviews from designers from the 20s and 30s, you’d think they were talking about today. ‘There are too many people,’ ‘there is not enough demand,’ ‘I’m trying to market my goods,’ ‘I can’t get the money from wholesalers for fabric,’ and ‘the department stores are giving me a hard time.’ I think the thing that has changed so much is access to The Internet, and that kind of aspect of social media, having a much larger voice.”

Now vs. Tomorrow

“One of the things economists are saying about manufacturing around the world is that we’re going to see a real drop in jobs. And while this election cycle is motivated by that in part here in the United States, one of the main reasons for that is automation, and that’s going to be moving ever-forward.  I also think that we have to rethink how we train people coming up.”