Special Collections

Special Collections is more than the rare book unit of the FIT Library; it is a resource rich study center for the fashion industry, fashion historians, and associated researchers including students from FIT's wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs related to fashion. Our total collection is over 6,000 linear feet and contains over 12,000 volumes of rare and important books and periodicals on fashion and textiles; more than 400 unique oral histories; and nearly 1000 scrapbooks from fashion design houses and department stores. 

Our ever-growing holdings of over 460 manuscript collections include more than 500,000 works of art on paper dating from 1590s through today; fashion firms and designers are primarily represented. The work of the garment industry of New York's Seventh Avenue is heavily represented as well along with small samples of sketches executed for Broadway and Hollywood productions. Taken cumulatively, Special Collections' primary source research materials reveal developments which characterize the school of American fashion design in the first half of the 20th century. 

FIT College Archives

The FIT College Archives holds records that document the Fashion Institute of Technology's people, events, buildings, research, and important business activities. The history of FIT is a vital part of the history of New York's nationally landmarked Garment District. The series include selected institutional records created by past and current administrative and programmatic units, as well as documentation related to FIT campus architecture, information about Museum at FIT exhibitions, and audio-video recordings of FIT-sponsored educational programs such as symposia and lectures. The archives currently measure circa 200 linear feet of records documenting FIT's past and present and even offer glimpses into its future.

Online Resources

SPARC Digital is a platform created by FIT's Special Collections and College Archives (SPARC) to showcase the rare and unique materials from our collections that have been digitized. Our goal is to make our collections more widely available online to the FIT community and the general public. SPARC Digital features images from dozens of collections in the form of original fashion sketches, photographs, illustrations, and historic fashion plates. These collections contain many fine examples of women's wear, menswear, children's wear, millinery, footwear, jewelry, and costume created between the 18th and 20th centuries. Significant collections include the Bergdorf Goodman archives, Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustrations, Halston Hats sketches, Jerry Miller Shoe designs, Joseph Love Children's Wear sketches, Helena Rubinstein Foundation photographs, and many more. One of the features we were most excited to implement with SPARC Digital is the ability to search and browse the collection by color. Users will find this feature especially conducive for exploring a collection centered on fashion. Faceted searching is also available. Users can drill down into their search, narrowing the results by medium, subject, format, creator, and collection. SPARC Digital also includes exhibits in which content is curated and contextualized to give greater meaning to our unique materials. Where possible, SPARC has reviewed material in SPARC Digital and included a rights statement in the metadata associated with each item. This rights statement indicates whether a researcher may or may not reuse an item and the permission needed to do so. We are continually adding to SPARC Digital, prioritizing material that is in the public domain to encourage our users to creatively re-use our collections. As a growing enterprise we welcome your comments on how to make SPARC Digital the best that it can be!