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The Kyoto Costume Institute

Digital Archive

Calling all urbanites missing their fix of city culture. Calling the fashion nerds, history buffs, and museum geeks… There is a place in the digital universe where you can find loads of inspiration and access decades of expertly preserved and beautifully documented garments that tell the story of the western world.

Japan’s Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) prides itself on its ability to track the history of western culture and politics through their extensive collection of clothing. The institution has work dating back to the 17th century and carrying on into the contemporary world. Aside from their permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, KCI offers a digestible digital archive of many of their notable pieces.

Clicking through each photo, viewers can not only find information on the work (date, location, material, ect.), but a short descriptive text that contextualizes the garment or ensemble in the history of that time and place. In this way, the Kyoto Costume Institute’s promise to trace social history through trends can be granted from home in a uniquely educational way. It is the kind of website on which you may learn something you never knew would be interesting. Like the connection between the first synthetic dye in 1835 and the color mauve, or the ways in which fashion followed music and dancing in the 1920s. Regardless, KCI’s digital archive is a bottomless treasure chest of beauty and knowledge; Go find your loot.

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