The Parallels Between Art and Fashion Storage: A Conversation with Art Law Firm Withers Bergman
(reposted with the permission of Withers Bergman) Withers Bergman is an international law firm that acts for some of the most prominent individuals, institutions and businesses in the art world, giving them an in-depth understanding of all facets of the art market. Their Art law team advises art collectors and investors, commercial art galleries, museums, private auction houses, art dealers, artists, nonprofit art foundations, charitable organizations and art market professionals worldwide on all legal and regulatory issues connected with fine art and art assets.
Amanda Rottermund, an Associate on Withers’ Art team, sat down with Kelsey Rudin, Executive Vice President, of UOVO, to speak about the parallels between the storage of fine art and fashion, and UOVO’s new storage division specifically designed for fashion.
Please tell us about yourself and UOVO.
I am the Executive Vice President of UOVO, New York’s number one art and fashion storage company. To put it succinctly, we store important collections in museum-quality conditions, and provide expert installation, transportation and collection management services. We are a one-stop shop for the world’s most recognizable artists, collectors, couture houses, fashion designers, galleries, museums and more. Our Long Island City flagship opened in 2014, and we have since grown to 650,000+ square feet of New York storage across four locations. Our newest facility, UOVO: BROOKLYN, will open this fall.
I studied urban design and started my career in real estate, so I am naturally focused on developing facilities that maximize opportunities for our diverse clientele. UOVO is a very forward-thinking company, committed to applying the latest technologies and best practices from across industries, so it’s a great fit.
Historically, UOVO has focused on the storage of fine art, however, this past May, UOVO announced it was launching UOVO: MODA, a new storage division specifically designed for fashion. Can you please share with us the impetus for the new division?
The truth is, we have been quietly working with leading designers, fashion brands, fashion collectors and entertainers since we opened. Our fashion storage options are unique within the industry—we provide museum-quality environmental conditions and the option for private storage rooms that clients can access directly. This distinctive approach has allowed UOVO’s fashion business to grow organically.
The recent rise of museum fashion exhibitions and the blurring line between fashion designers and artists showed us the time was right to focus on fashion. So we launched MODA to increase our visibility in the sector, educate the fashion community on opportunities and best standards for garment preservation and streamline the process for new clients. We want to make the benefits of our services as accessible as possible, because we believe fashion archives should be cared for just like masterpieces. They are a part of our cultural legacy.
What similarities do you see between the storage of fine art and fashion? Specifically, are your fine art and fashion clients looking for the same or different services?
I see a lot of similarities. Both our art and fashion clients are looking for the highest-quality storage in the industry to ensure the long-term preservation of their collections, coupled with the convenience and peace of mind that comes from working with an expert support team.
More specifically, both kinds of clients respond to having private storage spaces where they can work directly with their collections. Private storage rooms and viewing galleries are an established aspect of fine art storage, but MODA is the only provider applying this concept to fashion storage. Many of our fashion clients are on site every day for a variety of purposes, like using their archives as an inspiration library, cataloging and photographing their collections, and giving tours to media, stylists or curators. It’s all about that combination of flexibility and discretion.
That said, if a private room is not necessary, MODA also offers a traditional valet receive-and-release option at the most competitive rate in the industry. With four facilities and two types of storage, we have solutions for every budget.
You note that MODA provides “museum standards for optimal archival preservation.” What are examples of these standards and who do you work with to develop them (i.e., do you collaborate with museum curators or fashion house archivists)?
When we are talking about optimal archival preservation, we are talking about preventing both catastrophic and creeping damage. All our facilities are designed to mitigate the risk of a disaster—like a fire or a flood—and to stop the long-term, harmful effects of exposure to elements like sunlight, temperature and humidity fluctuations, pests and pathogens. In fact, fashion archives are more vulnerable than many fine art archives, as textiles and leathers are among the most environmentally sensitive materials.
These principles guide us every step of the way, from building outside of flood zones, to using fire-proof materials, to installing the most sophisticated HVAC and security systems. We have been vetted by the world’s leading insurers including the AXA GRASP program, and have earned the trust of preeminent archivists and curators, many of whom work here regularly as an extension of our distinguished clientele.
On August 15, UOVO: MODA announced it would be sponsoring the Museum of Arts and Design’s retrospective on Anna Sui titled “The World of Anna Sui” opening on September 12 in New York. Can you please provide us with insight into UOVO’s sponsorship of this fashion exhibition? Are there specific fashion services that you will be providing to the Museum of Arts and Design that you would not provide for a fine art exhibition?
Great questions. Yes, we are delighted to support the Anna Sui retrospective at MAD. She’s a New York fashion icon and it’s an honor to help the museum share her exuberant designs with the public.
MODA has assisted with the exhibition in several ways. We have our own trucking fleet, and a major part of our contribution is packing and transporting items for exhibition. Many people don’t realize there is a significant storage component to museum exhibitions, particularly with traveling exhibitions, so we are providing that support as well. Our expert handlers have also helped to prepare the museum space itself. It’s essentially the same suite of services we provide fine art exhibitions, except that we are applying best practices for transporting, handling and storing garments.
With Fashion Week, do you find there to be any increased interest in preserving and appreciating fashion in the same light as art?
Quite frankly, it’s next to impossible to talk about archive preservation during Fashion Week! At this time of year, everyone is completely immersed in the moment and we respect that.
Other than “The World of Anna Sui,” are you planning any other art and fashion events or collaborations for New York Fashion Week?
Happily, we get to focus on having fun this week. We are celebrating “The World of Anna Sui,” and taking in all the shows and events. Our schedule really picks up after Fashion Week.
What are your top tips for fashion houses, fashion collectors and museums when looking to store fashion property?
My number one tip is to confirm the storage has climate control that meets museum standards. Stable climate levels are especially crucial for the preservation of textiles and leathers.
My second tip is to visit the facility where your archive will be stored. You should be able to see the conditions and level of organization firsthand.
Third, think about if a private storage room is right for you. Do you want the option to visit your collection? Could you benefit from a workspace inside your archive? Or if you prefer a traditional concierge approach, are there workspaces at the facility you can access? The answer will be different for every client, but whatever is best for you, make sure you have flexibility.
Finally, don’t settle. If a storage facility doesn’t impress you, keep looking. Your fashion collection is an important asset and it deserves the best care.