OSU Fashion Story

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Photo credit: Kevin Fitzsimons

Since early fall, the Ohio State Historic Costume & Textiles Collection has been paying homage to Columbus' bicentennial with a fashion exhibition. Until Dec. 7, The Columbus Fashion Story will be on display in Campbell Hall on OSU's campus. It showcases clothing and accessories from some of the major retailers (like Lazarus and Limited Brands) that made a name for themselves in Columbus as early as the mid-1800s. Admission to the exhibition is free, and you can find gallery hours at We chatted with Gayle Strege, curator, to learn a little bit more about the featured fashion. –Heather Weekley, @heather_weekley

How did the idea for the exhibition come about?

The Columbus anniversary and the bicentennial triggered that. We had done a similar type of thing for the Ohio bicentennial in 2003 so we were able to expand on that.

How did you acquire the clothing?

Most of what we have in the collection has been given to us as a donation. A lot of things are from local Columbus folks. We do have about 12,000 things in the collection. It's a pretty big collection of materials that dates from the mid-18th century to about 10 years ago. We don't have a lot of 21st century things because we get so much from donation and it depends on how quick people clean out their closets. A majority of the items we have from The Limited Brands stores are on loan from the community. Those stores have really dominated mall fashion for the last 30 years and we really wanted to share that as a part of the Fashion Story.

What do you hope people learn after seeing the exhibit?

There were some really significant milestones in the whole fashion retail industry that came out of Columbus, Ohio. Some of the clothing manufacturer stories haven't been as readily told. There were some major milestones with Max Morehouse (of the Morehouse-Martens department store) in 1911. He contracted with the Wright brothers to have a bolt of silk fabric sent from Dayton to Columbus. This was the first air freight cargo transport done. And when Fred Lazarus Jr. was in charge of the stores at Lazarus, he had a chat with President Roosevelt during the 1930s and he convinced Roosevelt and Congress that they should move the Thanksgiving holiday from the last Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday of November. It gave you another seven days to shop for Christmas. It was economic stimulus. Those were a couple of real milestone things that happened, that we want to make people aware of.