Skip to navigation
Skip to main content


Men and women have always adorned themselves with a variety of animal, plant and mineral 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, plant, and mineral 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 a three-year 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!

purse from Earth to Body exhibit

EARTH TO BODY (2020) highlights the apparel industry’s use of natural elements from the earth such as gold, silver, and semi-precious stones! Online exhibition coming fall 2020.


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.

Vest from Flora and Fashion exhibit

SPECIAL EVENTS: Flora and Fashion opens on September 20th! During the opening reception, visit with Textile and Apparel Management students about their clothing designs inspired by the exhibition and Mizzou Botanic Garden!

purse from Earth to Body exhibit

SUPPORT THE SERIES: You can support the MHCTC’s educational mission and the ORIGINS Series by giving to the Collection’s DirectGive page. If you are interested in being a sponsor for the 2020 fundraiser (see below), please contact the HES Office of Advancement.


Origins exhibit items

The Origins: Dress and Textiles exhibition series culminates in fall 2020 with a unique fundraising event that includes historic clothing, a dinner highlighting Missouri agricultural products created and served by MU’s Hospitality and Restaurant Management students, a mini live fashion show of TAM student designs created over the course of the series, and fiber art by community artists! Stay tuned for more information and ways you can support this one-of-a-kind fundraiser!