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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Apparel Design

An introductory guide to resources for Apparel Design.


Welcome to the Apparel Design Research Guide. This guide covers a wide range of available resources such as useful books, links, and digital resources to complete assignments and conduct research.

This guide will help you begin your research. Keep in mind that research is an iterative process; it will build on itself and is often better accomplished in multiple small steps. Art is often an interdisciplinary area of study so some resources might seem more relevant than others. This guide cannot list all possible resources, but it is a good place to start. If you have more questions or need additional help, just ask! There are librarians available to help you find answers.

The Art of Browsing

Here are some helpful tips:

Books in the RISD Fleet Library are organized by topic using Library of Congress classification system. Topics related to Apparel Design are under the letter ranges GT, HD, HF, NK, PN, and TT. If you are interested in browsing the shelves, you can use this map and these call number ranges as a guide:

GT 1-7070 Manners and customs

GT495-499 Human body and its parts. Personal beauty

GT500-2370 Costume. Dress. Fashion

HD 9720-9975 Manufacturing industries

HD 9850-9939 Textile Industries. Textile Fibers    

HD 9940-9969 Clothing/Apparel

HF 5001-6182 Business

HF 5410-5417.5 Marketing.  Distribution of products

HF 5419-5422 Wholesale trade

HF 5428-5429.6 Retail trade 

HF 5437-5444 Purchasing.  Selling.  Sales personnel.  Sales

NK 8800-8999 Textile Arts

PN 2000-3307 Dramatic representation. The theater

PN 2085-2091 The stage and accessories

PN 2131-2193 By period

PN 2131-2145 Ancient

PN 2152-2160 Medieval

PN2171-2179 Renaissance

PN2181-2193 Modern

TR 679 Fashion photography  

TT 490-695 Clothing manufacture.  Dressmaking.  Tailoring

TT 697-927 Home arts. 

Home crafts Including sewing, embroidery, decorative crafts


Suggested SUBJECT searches:

Costume -- Exhibitions.

Clothing and dress.

Exoticism in fashion.


Searching Tips

As you search for information on your topic you will develop your own vocabulary and terms related your topic. Keeping track of searches that worked well or creating lists of synonyms for your keywords can be very helpful.


Keyword Searches

Whether you are searching on the library Catalog or in Fleet Search, searches will default to Keyword searches.

A Keyword search looks for words anywhere in the title, summary, or metadata of an item. Keyword searches are a good substitute for a subject search when you do not know the standard subject heading. Keyword may also be used as a substitute for a title or author search when you have incomplete title or author information.

  • Use this type of search technique when you are getting a feel for your topic and you are finding general information on a topic or subject.
  • For example, a keyword search for "Adrian Piper" will give you results for items about and written by her. If you want to find items written by Adrian Piper use an author search and enter "Piper, Adrian."


Artist/Author Searches

This search looks for the name of the artist, author, editor, or translator of an item. It can be helpful to think of the artist as the author of his/her/their own work.

  • Use this search when you know the name of the artist, author, editor or translator of a item.
  • Tip: search last name, first name, for example "Piper, Adrian." If you don't find the artist or author you are looking for, try a keyword search instead.
  • Tip: Galleries or museums can be listed as authors. Try searching museums and galleries to see exhibition catalogs and other publications by institutions. For example Museum of Fine Arts Boston or Museum of Modern Art.
  • For example, if you want to find items written by Adrian Piper use an author search and enter "Piper, Adrian." If you enter a name as a subject, the items you see in the search results will be about them, not necessarily written by them. A keyword search will return anything containing the name.


Subject Searches

A subject search is more specific than a keyword search. Subject headings are a predetermined list of possible terms, which reflect the content of the item. Most academic libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings. Subject headings are not always intuitive.

  • Use this type of search when you want to find information which reflects the about-ness of a topic.
  • For example, if you enter "Piper, Adrian" as a subject, the items you see in the search results will be about her, not necessarily written by her. If you want to find items written by Adrian Piper, use an Author search. A Keyword search will give you results for any items that contain the name.

Title Searches

This search looks for the exact words you entered as the title of an item. If you don't know the exact title, try using a Keyword Search instead.

  • Use this when you know the exact title of a book, exhibition catalog, or journal.

Graduate Theses

Thesis books are deposited at Fleet Library at the end of each graduate student's time at RISD. Most recent theses can be browsed freely in the library's mezzanine-level Grad Thesis area; older and more delicate work is housed in Archives and can be viewed by appointment. Theses designated as Storage can be requested during open hours on the first floor of the library. See the Index to Graduate Theses to explore theses in detail. Some of RISD's recent Graduate Theses are available to view and download online on RISD's Digital Commons.

Citation Management

For more information and additional options, see Citation Guides and Information Management Tools

Additional Resources

Requesting an Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a library service that allows the Fleet Library to "check out" materials from other libraries. If we don't have something you need, request it and we'll notify you when it's available.

Through ILL you can request:

  • Books
  • Book Chapters (PDF)
  • Articles (PDF)
  • DVDs/Videos
  • CDs, Musical Scores

Sign into the Interlibrary Loan portal here with your RISD account.


You can also request items from within Fleet Search (look for the "Request through Interlibrary Loan" option).
This is handy because it will pre-fill the item request form for you.

Renewing Books Online

Step 1: Visit the library homepage and click "My Account" in the top right account

Step 2: Follow the instructions on the screen to log in.

Step 3: Click "# Items currently checked out" and click "Renew All" or select the items you'd like to renew. 

If you are prevented from renewing, you may have hit your limit (see "Borrowing" on the website for info). For help, reach out to us: or (401) 709-5901

Brown University Libraries

RISD faculty, staff, and students have borrowing privileges at Brown Libraries. You must have a current RISD ID for access. Be sure your account is active with RISD's Fleet Library.

Brown Visiting Policy

To receive an access card for Brown libraries, RISD community members must check in at the Circulation Desk. Find their policies on this page

Database Access

RISD community members can only access Brown's Databases on-site. You can search and download from Brown's databases using their visitor/public computers. The public computers are located on the 1st and 2nd floor of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library and in the basement of the Sciences Library. If you have questions, ask at the Circulation Desk for help.


RISD community members can borrow up to 5 books for 4 weeks.