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A Fashion Library Is a Necessary Expense

I’ve often been asked by friends what my take on the idea of the fashion library. Many have a mixed view of libraries, not least because in part they are often perceived as intimidating, or at least unfriendly. Libraries are often looked on as old and outdated places, and it’s understandable that people feel this way, especially if they have had to visit one. I tend to agree that one of the downsides of the library is that you often have to cross streets to get to the bookshelves, which can be unpleasant on a bright sunny Sunday. But libraries can also be a great place to meet up with people and talk about culture and history.

Iris Rijskamp, co-founding Lena, the Fashion Library, think that people should be seen as an asset to society, state, or even their own bodies, believe Suzanne Smulders, who also co-chairs the board. Especially if it comes to fashion. In Holland alone throw away 180 million kilos of fabric a year, while in other countries terrible economic circumstances have resulted in poverty and rising unemployment. Fashion can help these countries improve, as it has for many countries in Europe, and the library can be a central location for young fashionistas as well as for established fashion designers.

There is no doubt that libraries and knowledge are important. I would go so far as to claim that knowledge is the key to societal progress. This is certainly true of the fashion industry, but also true of the film industry, publishing, broadcasting and design. The impact of literary culture is enormous. A single novel could change the course of human history, for instance. If you have a favourite book, library or not, I can guarantee that it would be a good idea to read it.

Libraries collect large volumes of books, and the numbers of books used to create a fashion library are growing every year. It is estimated that in North America alone there are now approximately two million books on the subject of fashion. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg – the actual figure is probably much higher. The sheer volume of books available on fashion, and in particular on women’s fashion, makes the task of curbing the ever-increasing volume of information all-together, perhaps more difficult than it needs to be.

But even when you consider the relatively recent past, you can see that libraries have been making a real contribution to society ever since the age of the library. In fact, as recently as fifty years ago most people would walk into a brick-and-mortar library and not even realise that the books on offer were actually historical documents. It was only with the advent of the computer and the internet that anyone was able to access vast amounts of information about anything at all. Nowadays, it’s all right to access the likes of Wikipedia and The New York Times on the computer, but there is something to be said for being able to flip through a book at your leisure. And the fashion industry is not an exception to this rule.

While browsing through a good women’s fashion library you will find that there are a wealth of books on subjects such as clothes, make-up and accessories. You will also find books on seasonal fashion trends and even books on how to design your own clothing line. With so much information on fashion available at your fingertips, it really is a great idea to take advantage of them. Why not join a fashion club, or simply read your favourite magazines while taking in the sights and sounds of the fashion world?