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Where a closet full of fashion history hangs in North Texas

Twenty-thousand pieces cover 250 years of items Texans loved, wore and donated to the Texas Fashion Collection at the University of North Texas.

DENTON, Texas — In a nondescript building behind several locked doors on University of North Texas' campus, there's a closet you couldn’t dream up if you tried.

Two stories full of endless racks of clothing make up the Texas Fashion Collection, all under the care of director Annette Becker. She's our tour guide through a place few know about and even fewer see in person.

"Most of what we have is women’s wear," said Becker. "Mostly from the 20th century."

Two-hundred-and-fifty years of history is represented in nearly 20,000 garments and accessories. Dallas-based department store Neiman Marcus started saving pieces in the 1930s. Over the decades, UNT took hold and the collection grew with an emphasis on details.

Every item is a donation. Many are from notable Texans, who keep the collection stocked in designers whose names you know.

"This is iconic Chanel, and we’re lucky to have a lot of different pieces from her career," said Becker, while showing a Chanel tweed skirt suit. 

Still, the heart of the collection is in the everyday items, sewn by grandmothers in Texas kitchens.

Unfortunately, visiting designers or researching students are some of the only ones who can see the closet up close. But what good are the clothes if you can’t enjoy them? Becker’s brought on Megan DeSoto, adjunct faculty of photography at UNT to digitize every item so you can eventually see the entire collection online. 

Becker wants those photos and our visit to remind everyone that clothing is meaningful, no matter the price. Everything in the collection is something a Texan wore and loved which makes it a part of their personal history. It’s now preserved for our future, safely guarded in a nondescript building on the campus of UNT.

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