“Can a Christian be a fashion designer?”
That question was put to me recently after I taught a session on worldview and life work to a group of young Christians in Chile. The young inquirer told me she loved to design clothes and wanted to be a fashion designer. Could she do this as a Christian?
My immediate response was Yes! Why not? In fact, as I said, if that is God’s call she should pursue fashion design. But it will not be done without difficulty. As she already knew, the fashion industry has its own culture, often vulgar and debased. Some fashion focuses on darkness and death, some on the commoditizing of women, and some on the sexualization of children and teens.
On the other hand, the culture of the kingdom is characterized by Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. So does God want that culture brought into the arena of clothing and fashion? Yes, certainly! The light of the gospel is to penetrate all of society.
Cultures are either moving towards light and life or towards darkness and death. Many factors in the culture contribute to that movement. The arts are especially influential. Yet the whole idea of a Biblical worldview enters here. The gospel must infiltrate every area of life through our work. Thus it naturally follows that someone needs to design clothing that is beautiful, modest, and celebrative of life.
Followers of Christ should take the lead as kingdom fabricators of God-honoring apparel. They will need to work thoughtfully. They will have to avoid simply following fashion trends. Christians of all vocations need to think biblically about their work. As we ground our work in the cultural trinity (Truth, Beauty, Goodness) we bring God’s nature and character into the workplace.
The morning after talking with this young woman, I read Eric Metaxas’ BreakPoint message, God’s Comic: Believers in the World of Stand-up. He makes some of the same arguments I shared with this young lady.
I enjoy teaching every year at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base in Puerto Rico. Yarley Nino, the director, understands the importance of a Biblical worldview. What is more, many young artists find their way there.
A few years ago during my week at that base some of the students approached me with what I call “righteous discontent.” Here’s what they told me.
Do you realize that when people go to the mall to buy clothes, the clothing available is designed by people with an agenda? Their agendas may be to sexualize children, commercialize people, promote an androgonist (uni-sex) culture or promote drugs and death. Why do we have to choose clothing that promote other peoples agendas? There is a need to create a line of clothing that is beautiful and that promotes moral modesty and life.
Needless to say, I was excited to hear their vision and encouraged them to pursue their dream. Brennan Manning has caught the vision when he writes:
Send in the artists, mystics, and clowns. Their fertile imaginations pours the new wine of the gospel into fresh wineskin (Luke 5:38). With fresh language, poetic vision, and striking symbols, they express God’s inexpressible Word in artistic forms that are charged with the power of God, engaging our minds and stirring our hearts as they flare and flame.
If you have a heart to be a stand up comic, a designer of clothing, a play write, an opera singer, a singer/songwriter or a dancer, pursue it with a passion. My friend, Derek Brown, recently reposted this story as a splendid example of what that can look like.
- Darrow Miller