Philip Sills donated a significant collection of items to the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection at The Ohio State University from 1980-1989. The collection documents the collaboration between Philip Sills, a garment manufacturer, and Bonnie Cashin, one of America’s most significant fashion designers. It is one of the longest partnerships between a designer and manufacturer in the American fashion industry. The Philip Sill’s Bonnie Cashin Collection numbers:
- 400 garments (See Search Collections for select catalog records)
- 3 swatch books from 1966, 1971, and 1976
- 4 linear feet of supporting documentation including sketches and photographs from 1958-1977, trend reports from 1959-1977, and miscellaneous papers
- 1300 color slides
Bonnie Cashin was one of the most innovative designers America ever produced. She was among the first designers to create and popularize what was a uniquely American approach to clothing—sportswear. One of a handful of women to make significant and lasting contributions to American fashion design, Cashin’s collaboration with Sills was when she had her greatest impact and when her signature style solidified. They pioneered the use of leather in high fashion clothing, and Cashin introduced the concept of layering clothing as well as brass hardware for garment closures. She later used the signature hardware when designing Coach handbags. Cashin won three Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards for design, two of them while working with Sills.
The Philip and Helen Sills Bonnie Cashin Collection received support from a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant in 2018. The funding provided for purchase of archival storage materials to upgrade the storage conditions of this important collection.