Bloomsbury Fashion Central | Reference eReviews, July 2019

Bloomsbury Fashion Central more than meets its promise to serve as the central source for interdisciplinary research on fashion and dress. The breadth of peer-reviewed and original content sets it apart, making it valuable for those interested in the history of fashion, industry, culture, and more.

Bloomsbury FashionCONTENT Combining a range of interdisciplinary collections, Bloomsbury Fashion Central is a one-stop resource for the study of fashion and dress, with peer-reviewed material including ebooks, case studies, biographies, lesson plans, bibliographic guides, photos, and videos.

The content is comprised of several databases: Berg Fashion Library, Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases, the Fairchild Books Library, the Fashion Photography Archive, and the forthcoming Bloomsbury Fashion Video Archive.

The Berg Fashion Library (winner of the Dartmouth Medal) includes the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, which consists of 2,000 images and more than 800 articles, as well as reference works, such as Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion, A-Z of Fashion, and The Dictionary of Fashion History, and a museum directory with details on collection holdings. Users will also find 100 academic ebooks; museum exhibition archives, including images from the Museum at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and Somerset House; and image partnerships, granting access to 14,000-plus color images from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Commercial Pattern Archive, and more. The collection further features lesson plans and bibliographic guides for research and learning.

Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases sheds light on essential business skills and challenges faced by members of the profession, including issues relating to sustainability, technology, ethics, and leadership. A full list of cases can be found on the collection’s information page, and teaching notes are available for instructors.

The Fairchild Books Library provides access to "everything a person needs to know to enter—and thrive—in the fashion industry." Here, users can retrieve full-text titles from Fairchild Books, the leading publisher of fashion textbooks, covering construction, draping, business management, textiles, marketing, and more.

The Fashion Photography Archive, curated by Valerie Steele, editor in chief and director of the Museum at FIT, showcases more than 750,000 digitized and high-quality images, highlighting 40 years of contemporary fashion history (500,000 currently available; forthcoming updates will complete the collection).

Beyond an extensive image collection, the Fashion Photography Archive also delivers more than 100 biographies and articles covering the last 30 years of fashion history, as well as a series of video interviews between Steele and Niall McInerney, the seasoned photographer behind the Fashion Photography Archive. A catalog of the Valerie Steele Core Collection can be found on the archive’s information page, along with a full list of biographies, articles, and videos within.

Lastly, the Bloomsbury Fashion Video Archive (not yet available) promises to "[bring] the front row of all things fashion" to users. With 3,000 videos and more than 1,200 hours of footage, shot between 1979 and 2003, the archive will present iconic shows from top designers and innovators. Archival footage and expert articles will be made available to the educational market for the first time and will stream via Bloomsbury Fashion Central. A teaser video announces publication in 2019.

USABILITY Bloomsbury Fashion Central consists of a clean, user-friendly interface. A simple search is available on the homepage and pulls results from any of the featured databases for which an institution has a subscription. The Fairchild Books Store can be accessed via a link in the top menu. The "browse" option groups materials based on content type (article, business case, etc.), and other categories, such as people, period, and themes.

Users can further refine queries with an advanced option, which lets them "search anywhere" or by author/editor, book title, chapter title, image title, image designer, museum collection, ISBN, and Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

Users can limit results by publication and online publication dates and across a range of facets, including content type; Design and Making; Dress; Fashion Business; Organizations and Design Houses; People; Period; Place; Textiles, Materials and Colors; and Themes. A search for "Galliano," for instance, produces 200-plus text-based results and more than 3,000 images. Text results can be sorted by relevance, title, author, and date (both ascending and descending); a note to the right of the item identifies the content type.

Thumbnails are displayed above text results, allowing users to preview related images (such as John Galliano’s newspaper-print leather gloves or origami-style hat). The full list of image results appears on a separate page, accessed via a link beneath the thumbnails. Users can apply the filters listed above to image results as well.

Clicking on text-based items yields information including title, author, source, and a brief description, as well as a list of "explore" tags linking to related content. Tools to save, cite, print, share, and save note(s) make it easy to preserve research.

Image records include the title of the photograph, name of the collection, artist/maker, date, reference number, place, and "explore" tags.

Two interactive time lines serve as visual guides to the resource and introduce users to the history of fashion. Global Dress and Fashion: Antiquity–Present places the history of fashion within the broader contexts of decorative and fine arts, economics and trade, politics and conflict, religion and society, and technology and ideas. International Fashion Shows: 1980–2000 sheds light on significant moments such as the launch of MTV or the creation of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s World’s End label. Events are classified by "designers and brand events," "models," "art and music," "film and television," and "historical and cultural events."

PRICING Fees for this four-database resource are based on institution size and type. Consortia discounts may apply. Berg Fashion Library is available via subscription (ranging from $1,616 to $8,594). Fashion Photography Archive is available via subscription ($3,224 to $8,362) or onetime purchase ($14,250 to $41,230). Annual hosting fees (for purchase only) are $200 to $600. Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases is available via subscription ($1,383 to $4,599). Fairchild Books Library is currently offered in North America for the first time by subscription-only, with cost available soon.

VERDICT Bloomsbury Fashion Central more than meets its promise to serve as the central source for interdisciplinary research on fashion and dress. The breadth of peer-reviewed and original content sets it apart, making it valuable for those interested in the history of fashion, industry, culture, and more.


Gricel Dominguez is a Librarian at Florida International University Library, Miami


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