Last weekend, the first ever Christian Fashion Week (CFW) was held in Tampa, Florida. Attendees could expect modest clothing collections, a women’s only swimwear show, and gift bags filled with bibles. Held concurrently with the venerated New York Fashion Week, organizer Jose Gomez hoped to “do something to make New York jealous” and “really wanted quality represented.”
The merits of creating Christian subcultures within literature, art, music, and film have been endlessly debated. And although I’m wary of creating yet another Christian subculture, this time in fashion, I’m also encouraged.
Most of Christianity’s discussion of fashion revolves around women’s modesty, and although CFW partly focused on that, it also seemed to celebrate the art, beauty, and craftsmanship of fashion.
Even fashion apologists like myself admit there are lots of ethical dilemmas that make it difficult for Christians to participate in fashion: underage models, the perpetuation of a rail-thin body type that encourages eating disorders, the use of exploitative labor, perverse sexuality in ad campaigns, and an under representation of minorities.
But what sector doesn’t have a laundry list of problems created by sin? Rather than withdrawing from fashion altogether, I hope more Christians see this as an opportunity and feel inspired to become designers, fashion photographers, writers, and stylists. Hopefully, events like CFW will serve as a catalyst for young people to view fashion as a way to, yes, serve God.
CFW may be a misguided attempt to redeem fashion, but at least its an attempt. I’m rooting for them.