Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman had established a very successful Seventh Avenue business before founding the Kent State University Museum, so they had many friends in the fashion industry. Owing to this special relationship, the Museum acquired the archives of numerous designers, including such materials as sketchbooks, photos, and press kits. These archives span the last half of the twentieth century and represent many segments of the fashion industry. Among the designers whose archives are represented are Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers, Pauline Trigère, George Stavropoulos, and Charles Kleibacker.
Following a stint designing costumes for film and theater, Shannon Rodgers was hired by Jerry Silverman and went on to design the clothes for the labels Jerry Silverman, Inc., and Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman. Their first season was a great success with Shannon quickly defining his signature style - a simplified version of the fashionable Parisian silhouette accented with a decorative touch that made the dresses immensely appealing to American women. By the early 1960s the two had begun collecting what was to become one of the largest and finest period costume collections in the United States - a collection which would provide the foundation of the Kent State University Museum's collection. In addition to their private collection, the Museum now owns a number of dresses they produced as well as their archives - including sketches, photographs and assorted documents.
Pauline Trigère gave the Kent State University Museum more than 30 dresses and ensembles, as well as sketchbooks spanning her entire career, from 1944 through 1994. The Trigère sketchbooks are currently housed in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library, located in Rockwell Hall, where they can be viewed by appointment.
George Stavropoulos was a Greek-American designer whose career in New York lasted from 1962 until 1990. He was friends with the Museum founders and donated a number of his dresses to the Museum during his lifetime. After his death, nearly 150 of his dresses were given to the Museum along with his sketches and photographs of many of his collections. The Museum's exhibit "Stavropoulos" takes advantage of the strength of the collection as well as his archives. The archives are currently housed in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library in Rockwell Hall.
Charles Kleibacker is one of the few American designers to have made a name for himself creating intricate garments in the couture tradition. Instead of mass-produced ready-to-wear, he created a limited number of extremely well-crafted garments that accented body shape and enhanced wearing comfort. Unsatisfied with industrial construction methods, he specialized in hand-sewn assembly techniques that enabled him to produce remarkable designs, many with highly complex bias-cut construction. As designer, collector and curator, Charles Kleibacker contributed to several exhibitions at the Kent State University Museum. Adjunct faculty member at the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University, he empowered students by sharing his technical skills and by encouraging their quest for individuality.