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This article was originally written for Christianity Today. See it in its original form here. You don't expect to spot a reference to Oswald Chambers devotionals in the pages of Vogue—unless you happen to know the man the magazine calls "LA's coolest" menswear designer, Jerry Lorenzo. Considering the name of Lorenzo's brand, …The post Jerry Lorenzo: Putting the Fear of God in the Fashion Industry appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

jerry lorenzo fear of god christian
Jerry Lorenzo photographed by Diane Abapo

This article was originally written for Christianity Today. See it in its original form here.

You don't expect to spot a reference to Oswald Chambers devotionals in the pages of Vogue—unless you happen to know the man the magazine calls "LA's coolest" menswear designer, Jerry Lorenzo.

Considering the name of Lorenzo's brand, Fear of God, or that the promotional video for his latest collection features the church favorite "How Great is Our God," it's clear that the 39-year-old doesn't shy away from the Christian faith that inspires his work.

Without context, the Bible references on his apparel seem like lip service at best or ironic appropriation at worst. But the fervency and frequency of Lorenzo's God-talk prove his faithfulness is more than a brand fad. You'd almost assume he was trying to evangelize through cheesy T-shirts if his style wasn't so supernally hip.

"What makes Fear Of God cool is that it taps into the nostalgia guys from 50 years old to 18 years old have for the '80s and '90s," explained GQ style writer Jake Woolf in an email. "He's taking the touchstones of that era—stonewashed denim, plaid, slightly looser fits, awesome rock band tees—and setting them against a 2016 backdrop where streetwear, high-fashion, and 'middle America' all have collided."

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Lorenzo wearing pieces from his latest collection

"The result is something that's familiar enough to get customers in the door, but cool enough to be instantly recognizable in the streets," Woolf said. This meeting of disparate elements is apparent in Lorenzo himself. He seems tough, with an armful of tattoos and bandana holding back tightly curled hair, but his slow, steady speech conveys more inner stillness than swagger.

So how did a dad with no formal fashion training who can't shut up about Jesus become one of the hottest names in menswear? "If God's given you a gift, you want to do whatever you can to honor him through that," he said, "and I guess I have this gift about fashion."

After years of working retail for high-end brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Diesel, Lorenzo became a manager for professional athletes. As he shopped for players, he realized that key garments he wanted—say, a short-sleeved hoodie for layering in hot Los Angeles weather—didn't exist. Back in 2012, Lorenzo began visiting LA garment factories to learn how to put these pieces together himself. Six months later, he had enough for his first collection.

His design process involves pulling vintage pieces from an archive in Italy or thrift stores in LA, then working with a production manager to execute his vision for an updated version of the garment. "The essence of what I make is American classics with my spin on it," Lorenzo said. "The goal is to modernize these pieces to make them say Fear of God 2016 and not 1984."

Fear of God fourth collection jerry lorenzo christian
Fear of God fourth collection

Once Lorenzo started his fashion line, he knew he wanted it built on his faith.

"I started at a time when there was a lot of religious symbolism within fashion, much of it very dark," he said. "I felt like the fashion world was open to a religious take. But I wanted to offer it and have the foundation be truth, not random symbolism for the sake of looking cool."

The inspiration for the brand's name, Fear of God, came from the classic devotional My Utmost For His Highest. "Growing up, God and Christianity had always seemed kinda light. I don't wanna say they were corny, but if you grew up in church, you knew your church friends were never really as cool as the cool kids at school," Lorenzo said. "But the devotional was talking about dark clouds surrounding the kingdom of God, and I saw the fear of God as reverence for this figure who was so layered and deep that he seems dark to us. For the first time, I saw God as this really cool character."

That understanding served as the basis for Lorenzo's first collection, which featured heavily layered, dark looks referencing grunge and hip-hop—what he describes as a mix between the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, whose likeness appears in Lorenzo's vintage T-shirt collection, and 11-time NBA all-star Allen Iverson.

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Lorenzo repping his Cobain fandom with a vintage tee

This unusual mashup also reflects Lorenzo's church background. As a kid in south Florida, he attended an all-white high school, but spent Sundays worshiping at a black church 45 minutes away.

"These things served as the foundation of my clothing line—the grunge and rock that I listened to at my white high school, the hip-hop and soul and gospel that I was exposed to on the weekends by friends at the black church," he said.

Though Lorenzo, his wife Desiree and three kids now attend a megachurch in LA, it took a rocky journey to get Lorenzo to his current place of shameless faith. He found his faith challenged by the pressures of the club scene.

"I was so concerned with this street culture that I'm in," Lorenzo said. "I was not only trying to balance work and family, but I was also dealing with insecurities and wanting to have relationships that I thought justified who I was in the fashion world."

After "coming to the end of himself," Lorenzo backed away from nightlife and alcohol and shifted his relationship with God, allowing him to be more focused on his family life and more open about his faith.

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Lorenzo with his son

"I love God so much that I don't want to do things that hurt my relationship with him anymore," he said. "Yes, those are things that I did, but who I am is identified in whose I am, not who I was."

Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church in New York sometimes wears Fear of God while preaching, and Lorenzo calls him an iron-sharpens-iron kind of friend. Lentz once described Fear of God as having a "Trojan" approach: "People don't really realize it's about Christianity until it's in the door."

But Lorenzo's less covert these days. "Maybe at the start, I was subconsciously like, 'Aw, I'm not gonna put it too much out there.' But I don't take 400,000 kids following me on Instagram for granted. This platform is huge now, so I have to represent for who I know put me here, and why he put me here," Lorenzo said.

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Gigi Hadid in a Fear of God coat

His Instagram is a collage of worship lyrics, front-row views at fashion week, videos of his adorable kids, and paparazzi snaps of celebs like Kylie Jenner and Kevin Hart in his clothes. Lorenzo has spoken at Vous Church in Miami and collaborated on merchandise for Christian conferences. Rather than worrying that these efforts might alienate an audience more likely to swear on the infallibility of GQ than the Bible, Lorenzo hopes to leverage his influence to expose his followers to faith.

"Maybe a kid finds out about a conference that he never would've heard about and goes, and his life is changed," Lorenzo said. So far, he hasn't experienced negativity from the fashion industry for his frank and frequent references to his beliefs, perhaps in part because the brand has been so well-received.

Still, he feels some ambivalence about the idea of coolness as Christian witness. "Cool is fleeting," he said. "If you love God and you put other people before you, that's beyond cool. Cool doesn't compare to that. What I'm doing with Fear of God is trying to show people that you can do what you're passionate about and love God. Whether it's cool to people or not isn't really relevant."

For Lorenzo, that means living in the tension of making clothing he's proud of without communicating to fans (or his own kids) that being fashionable is his highest value. He also finds himself grappling with accessibility. Endorsements from mega-influencers like Kanye West and Justin Bieber may be a boon to the business, but price points only celebs can afford frustrate fans.

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Justin Bieber in Fear of God on his Purpose tour

For those who can’t spend $895 on jeans, Lorenzo has collaborated with mall clothing retailer PacSun to create a lower-priced line, F.O.G. He also goes out of his way to explain to shoppers what's involved in making the premium-quality garments and shoes in his primary line. "I'm trying to honor the gift God has given me at the highest level," he said. "At the end of the day, whatever it costs to make that is what it costs."

In countries like Bangladesh and China, where the majority of the world's garments are produced, lower prices often come from cheap labor in poorly regulated factory conditions. Lorenzo's pricier pieces are manufactured only in LA and Italy, making labor ethics less of a potential problem.

Whatever one thinks of his prices, Lorenzo's commitment to excellence is serving him well in the eyes of the fashion world. His collaboration on Bieber's outfits for his latest tour has become the most talked-about aspect of the superstar's concerts and has drawn massive crowds at pop-up shops in New York and Toronto.

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Kanye West wearing Fear of God jeans at the Met Gala

Kanye caused a stir this year by breaking the prestigious Met Gala's white tie dress code to wear ripped Fear of God jeans on the red carpet. And Lorenzo's influence even extends into the more competitive world of womenswear, where supermodels like Gigi Hadid and pop stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna have donned his gear.

rihanna fear of god jerry lorenzo christian
Rihanna in a Fear of God bomber jacket

Still, for all the success he's tasted in the world of fashion, Lorenzo insists that he's not married to the medium. "The bigger Fear of God gets, the more I realize that it's God's—and that this could be any platform," he said. "It doesn't have to be clothing. It could be anything. This is just a platform for him to get glory."

What does that mean to Lorenzo beyond using his own visibility as a way to expose more people to Christianity? He admits that communicating gospel values through fashion isn't as straightforward as it might be in other creative mediums.

"For me to tell you that the zippers on this hoodie somehow correlate to Jesus Christ and my message of Christianity—that would not be an honest statement," he said. "If anything, it's just a humble elegance. There aren't loud logos, it's not overbearing, it's not in your face. There's an elegance there that says 'I am a child of the King,' but there's a restraint that says 'I'm not pushing this on you.'"

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Lorenzo, photographed by Diane Abapo

Christian interaction with the fashion industry often occupies extreme ends of the spectrum, with preachy, design-ignorant T-shirts on one end and designers at reputable houses scared to talk openly about their faith on the other. Lorenzo's approach offers an appealing middle ground. He's found a way to be honest about the fact that faith is central to what he does without coming off as holier-than-thou. As far as he's concerned, this is what it means to be in the world but not of it. "You can't be scared to get your hands dirty, to really get next to people and share your faith," he said.

"I could never imagine myself starting a clothing line and not having it built on this foundation," he added. "I felt like the world didn't need another clothing line. But the world does need this message: At the end of the day, these are just fabrics. If you really wanna know what the fear of God is about, it's a power that can change your life."

The post Jerry Lorenzo: Putting the Fear of God in the Fashion Industry appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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This piece is my latest for Fashionista. See the original article here. This time last year, I covered two of the most memorable events of my life as a photographer back-to-back: Burning Man festival and New York Fashion Week. With the interval between the two so short that I still had Nevada …The post The Surprising Similarities Between Burning Man and Fashion Week appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

burning man fashion week nyfw 2015
Burning Man 2015

This piece is my latest for Fashionista. See the original article here.

This time last year, I covered two of the most memorable events of my life as a photographer back-to-back: Burning Man festival and New York Fashion Week. With the interval between the two so short that I still had Nevada desert dust coating my shoes when I showed up in Midtown to shoot street style, it was hard not to compare the two. So I did—and my mental Venn diagramming yielded more similarities between the free-spirited arts festival in the wilderness and the corporation-backed urban fashion extravaganza than I expected.

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NYFW, fall 2015

Self Expression

For starters, the two events both celebrate unique forms of self-expression by way of clothing. Fashion people might channel a street style star or high-profile fashion editor, while the average Burner’s mood board is more likely to include Mad Max; but either way, the final result is usually outlandish and often delightful. Of course, extraordinary outfits look best against backdrops that similarly transcend the quotidian, and in this respect BM and NYFW both deliver. Whether in the form of a fire-spouting snake sculpture or an installation of 15,000 flowers, spectacle abounds on the playa and runway alike.

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Sculptures on the playa at Burning Man, 2015

Engagement

This ability to integrate artistry and life is perhaps the greatest strength of both events. An art museum may be beautiful, but it’s usually a look-don’t-touch environment where an artist delivers their vision without any room for dialogue with the viewer. NYFW and BM, on the other hand, both offer chances to go beyond merely looking. Whether it’s an interactive sculpture guests are invited to climb on the playa or a designer coat that can be remixed with Goodwill finds later in the season, both events offer ways for attendees to more fully immerse themselves in the creative work they admire. Besides resulting in a more engaging experience for viewers, this creates a kind of ongoing conversation between creator and viewer rarely possible in a gallery setting. In short, creativity begets creativity.

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Showgoers at NYFW, fall 2015

Accessibility

Of course, the overlap between the two isn’t all rosy. The events share some problems, too. Both have been criticized for inadequate racial diversity, especially when it comes to blackness: only 10.7% of last fall’s NYFW models were black, and only 1% of Burners last year were black. Accessibility is an issue, too. BM’s $390 tickets, plus the extensive costs associated with being completely self-sufficient in the desert for a week, are prohibitive to many—and the harsh physical conditions make it particularly difficult for any but the robustly healthy. And while the rise of digital influencers has democratized many aspects of fashion week, the majority of brands (except for a select few who have opened shows to the public) are still invite-only.

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Burning Man 2015

What fashion week could learn from Burning Man

But perhaps the most interesting part of the BM/NYFW Venn diagram are the parts that look like they should overlap, but don’t. Take for example the crazy outfits again: both Burners and NYFW-goers love to dress up, mix DIY and designer duds and laud originality when they see it in others. But the attitude guiding NYC peacocks often functions differently than that of their Black Rock City counterparts.

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NYFW fall 2015

When I photographed people outside the shows at NYFW, they often posed and then passed along their name and Instagram handle to make sure they got credited. Since a good street style reputation can be a boon to the careers of those who work in the industry, it’s hard to blame them. But this contrasted sharply with my experience at BM, where subjects were more likely to be photographed candidly, use “playa names” that kept them anonymous, and rarely even carried their phones. The result is that the elaborate costuming at BM felt like it was more about participating in the creative milieu than about creating a lasting digital impression or trying to move up an industry hierarchy.

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Burning Man 2015

Not only that, but Burners seemed genuinely willing to celebrate original and creative garb on whomever was wearing it, regardless of their age or body type. In my experience, the playa community was just as willing to celebrate a 60-year-old potbellied man in a homemade tutu as it was to celebrate a scantily clad Candice Swanepoel lookalike. And while Burners love to see other Burners in crazy getups (or sometimes very little getup at all), there’s no shade thrown at people who look more “normal.” In contrast, the fashion community still overwhelmingly prizes the young, thin and traditionally beautiful, even if “advanced style” icons like Iris Apfel or Grace Coddington do exist. And yes, you will absolutely feel like an outsider at a NYFW event if you show up not looking the part.

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NYFW fall 2015

Burning Man and New York Fashion Week are always going to be apples and oranges on some level, and that has to temper any comparison of the two. Some of the biggest differences that affect the underlying spirit of the two weeks—like the relentless product-pushing and branding that can feel so aggressive at NYFW, versus the de-commodification efforts and gifting culture at BM—will remain, considering that one exists to sell stuff and the other exists to build art and community.

Burning Man fashion week 2015
Burning Man 2015

But even so, I’m going to be looking for ways to bring a little more Burning Man to my own experience of fashion week this year. I may not be coming straight from the playa this time around, but I want to remember what I learned in the desert about why we dress up and whose fashion choices we celebrate. After all, what could be better than bringing together the best of two pretty fantastic worlds?

All photos © Whitney Bauck, 2015.

The post The Surprising Similarities Between Burning Man and Fashion Week appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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Paris Fashion Week just wrapped up, heralding fashion month's official end—and the fact that I'm typing this is a sign that I lived through it. This means I can change my personal theme song from Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" to Destiny's Child's "Survivor," which I think …The post My 2016 Fashion Month Superlatives appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

fashion month unwrinkling

Paris Fashion Week just wrapped up, heralding fashion month's official end—and the fact that I'm typing this is a sign that I lived through it. This means I can change my personal theme song from Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" to Destiny's Child's "Survivor," which I think we can all agree is a vast improvement.

The nonstop madness has meant very little updating this space along the way, so here's a quick look back at the past four weeks:

Favorite piece I wrote:

Vanessa Beecroft claims Kanye West kept everyone at Yeezy Season 4 waiting on purpose for Fashionista

Kanye essentially "kidnapped" the industry's most important editors for five hours during their busiest time of year to show them "boring" clothing worn by models who were literally fainting from physical exertion. The next day, I want to a talk by his longtime collaborator and fave fine artist Vanessa Beecroft to hear her thoughts on the matter. Shortly after, I filed a story to my editor saying, "If this is too savage, please feel free to reel me back in." I'll let you judge for yourself re: savagery.

I’ll call you back after fashion month

A photo posted by @unwrinkling on

Best event I attended and covered:

Refinery 29's 29Rooms kick-off party for Billboard

Going to cool events as a press person is always a bit of a mixed bag—on the one hand, it's amazing to be granted access to those spaces; on the other, it's a bummer not to be able to share the experience with someone you care about. Therefore, it's a true testament to 29Rooms' visual deliciousness that I had a grand ol' time at the kickoff party in spite of the fact that I didn't know a soul there (unless by "know" we mean "recognize from fave movies/magazine spreads/blogs," in which case I had a ton of buds there).

Alex Wang sure knows how to throw a classy afterparty

A photo posted by @unwrinkling on

Best event I attended and didn't cover:

The Alexander Wang afterparty

Alexander Wang is known for throwing the coolest after parties in the biz. This year was no exception: there was a mini McDonalds and 7Eleven with free wares set up inside the space; there was a surprise setlist that featured musicians like Skrillex, Desiigner and CL; there were lots of high-profile attendees (from Kardashian/Jenner family members to all the fashion writer/editor crushes I've ever had); there were people spray-painting cars; there were models still wearing runway makeup mingling with the partygoers. Oh, and there was dancing, lots and lots of it, which I am never not going to be excited about. The fact that I only got into the party because I wore DIY earrings to a small gallery opening a few nights prior and met someone who was really into them, followed me on Instagram on the spot, and then later invited me to the party made the whole event feel even more delightfully surreal and serendipitous.

Most frequently prayed prayer:

Some variation on "give me rest"

I learned to pray by writing and to write by praying; journaling in a God-directed way has been a part of my life for a long time. This month, the most commonly repeated refrain in my written prayers was asking for rest—for myself, for my friend in PR who was texting me from the office after midnight because she hadn't been home yet, for the whole industry. Getting four hours of sleep at night will do that to you.

I also found myself wrestling a good deal with unresolved questions about the Sabbath. I deeply believe in honoring it, but figuring out what that means in the context of this past month was tough. How do you make room for divinely mandated breaks once a week while also trying to pursue excellence in the context of an industry full of people who are willing to work nonstop? It's a question I very imperfectly tried to feel my way forward in this fashion month.

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Lowest point:

There are two oversimplified narratives that are often presented about the fashion industry: either that it's all glamorous parties and celebrity run-ins and free products, or that it's an essentially rotten business that good people get as far away from as they can. A more accurate picture, of course, contains elements of both, which is why I can't write about the celeb-studded parties without also mentioning that September 2016 was probably the toughest month of my post-college life. There was lots of adrenaline and plenty of exciting opportunities in my field, of course. But I was also more exhausted, physically and emotionally, then I've been in a very long time, and that stemmed from both an intense workload and some very difficult people in certain work settings.

All in all, though, I'm grateful. If I'm ever going to be able to meaningfully address the issues this industry faces, I'd like to think that will come from a place of really living through the issues, rather than sitting around abstractly dissecting them from the outside.

So, good and bad, fashion month happened. I'm still here in one piece, I learned a ton, and for now, that's all I can ask.

The post My 2016 Fashion Month Superlatives appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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It is a strange and wild world, friends, in which the likes of me gets invited to speak at an institution like Princeton. It’s an Ivy League! It produced my most beloved and brilliant art professor/theologian! I will be speaking alongside Ph.Ds and designers with Vogue mentions and other humans with Very Impressive Resumes! Yet somehow, this …The post Come hear me speak about fashion and faith at Princeton! appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

modest fashion princeton
One of Princeton’s first female students, 1969, via Life magazine

It is a strange and wild world, friends, in which the likes of me gets invited to speak at an institution like Princeton. It’s an Ivy League! It produced my most beloved and brilliant art professor/theologian! I will be speaking alongside Ph.Ds and designers with Vogue mentions and other humans with Very Impressive Resumes!

Yet somehow, this is the world we live in. I’ve been invited to speak about modest fashion as community and commerce alongside a brilliant array of women representing a range of faiths. If the exclamation points above didn’t make it clear, I’m pretty stoked about it.

Here are the nitty gritty details:

Who: Yours truly, along with London College of Fashion professor and author Reina Lewis, Mimu Maxi designers Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik, The Tempest founder Laila Alawa, and lawyer and altMuslimah founder Asma T. Uddin

What: a half-day symposium on “Modest Fashion as Community and Commerce”

When: Sunday, November 13 from 1-6 p.m. EST

Where: Frist Campus Center, Multipurpose Rooms B & C, Princeton University, NJ

If you’re anywhere in the area (New Yorkers, I’m looking at you), you should join the fun and cheer for me as I try to keep up with my betters. Learn more about the symposium here, and register to attend here. Hope to see you there!

The post Come hear me speak about fashion and faith at Princeton! appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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This is my first piece for the New York Times. See the article in its original form here. A Muslim, an Orthodox Jew and a religious Christian walked into a room, but it wasn't a bar and this was no joke. On the contrary, representatives from each of the Abrahamic religions …The post What Does Modest Fashion Mean? appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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Simi and Chaya of Orthodox Jewish label The Frock

This is my first piece for the New York Times. See the article in its original form here.

A Muslim, an Orthodox Jew and a religious Christian walked into a room, but it wasn't a bar and this was no joke. On the contrary, representatives from each of the Abrahamic religions had gathered during fashion month at New York University for the Meeting Through Modesty fashion symposium to discuss something they take very seriously: modest style.

A generous smattering of hijabs, skullcaps and discreet wigs were spread throughout the room, along with Proenza Schouler skirts and Rachel Comey shoes.

"There's a general misconception that modest clothing is inherently oppressive," said Michelle Honig, the keynote speaker and an Orthodox Jewish fashion journalist. "But if women in so-called 'liberated countries' still choose to cover their bodies, then they have made a choice. They have agency."

Ms. Honig had layered a Tanya Taylor top and Marc by Marc Jacobs skirt under a striped Prada dress to keep her elbows and knees concealed, in addition to wearing a wig to keep her head covered, per Orthodox custom.

Zelda Hair what does modest fashion mean
Zelda Hair, a wigmaker favored by chic Orthodox Jewish women in New York

The symposium was just one of a growing number of modest-fashion events in recent months at universities like Fordham, Princeton and the London College of Fashion. The trend in academic settings reflects a broader movement on the internet as devout women use social media to discuss, celebrate and experiment with modest fashion.

Interpretations of modesty differ across religious boundaries and even within them. "Modesty" in a Muslim context may be expressed by wearing loose-fitting pants and covering one's head with a hijab, while an Orthodox Jewish woman may wear skirts or dresses only and cover her head with a wig.

Christian women, like the swimwear designer Jessica Rey, may express their vision of modesty by eschewing bikinis in favor of bathing suits that expose their legs but cover their midriffs.

Still, the shared interest in staying relatively covered up while still looking stylish is enough to connect women across religious, racial and cultural boundaries. Many of them cite devotion to God and a desire to present themselves as "more than a collection of body parts," in Ms. Rey's words, as the motivation behind their affinity for modest dress.

Liz Roy of Downtown Demure what does modest fashion mean
Liz Roy of Downtown Demure

"Making connections with other Christians, as well as Muslim and Jewish women, has probably been the most exciting benefit of blogging," says Liz Roy, a Christian who runs the personal style blog Downtown Demure. "We all have different standards for modesty, but we share this common goal, which can be a bit contradictory to secular standards."

These connections have the potential to yield more than just warm, fuzzy feelings, according to the Jewish Orthodox sisters Simi and Chaya Gestetner of the modest indie label the Frock. While they enjoy the personal connections they build with customers of any faith (including their Orthodox neighbors in Brooklyn and their Mormon fans in Salt Lake City), they also see the mobilization of the modest-fashion community as a real boon for business.

Adi Heyman of Fabologie, by Adam Katz Sinding what does modest fashion mean
Adi Heyman of Fabologie, by Adam Katz Sinding

The sisters report seeing a significant increase in sales every time the Jewish Orthodox street style star Adi Heyman posts Instagram images of herself wearing their pieces, often mixed with separates from brands like Gucci or Chanel. Since Ms. Heyman's blog, Fabologie, flows from her desire to find more modest options in mainstream fashion, the continued success of brands like the Frock is something she is deeply invested in.

And while linking commerce and religion may seem distasteful to some, modest-fashion entrepreneurs like Melanie Elturk see it as a natural way to live out their faith and serve their communities. Ms. Elturk, a former lawyer who founded the online retailer Haute Hijab in 2010, uses her online following to offer style inspiration and practical resources to young Muslim women who are seeking to honor the tradition of wearing hijabs in the face of cultural pushback.

Melanie Elturk of Haute Hijab what does modest fashion mean
Melanie Elturk of Haute Hijab

"I have a whole network of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and community leaders who I put in touch with girls who are struggling so they can hash out any issues," said Ms. Elturk, whose responsive social media presence engages many younger followers. "I want to see a thriving community of girls who are proud to wear hijab."

Like many of her peers across religious lines, she would argue that modesty is required of both men and women, and that it's as much about how one carries oneself as how one dresses. And like Ms. Rey, whose line is made in America, Ms. Elturk would assert that her religious beliefs have made her as committed to ethical production as she is to modesty in fashion.

But perhaps the greatest point of consensus about modest fashion across a range of faiths is that it need not be experienced as a limiting factor in style or in life.

At the NYU panel, the Indonesian designer Dian Pelangi showed a video by Hijup, a Muslim fashion store, that showcased herself, a member of a hard-core band known for social critique and a martial artist who all pursue their passions while wearing the hijab. Ms. Honig chimed in with anecdotes about her experiences sky diving, rock-climbing and rappelling while wearing a skirt, asserting that while it may not be easy to participate in certain activities while honoring strict modesty dictates, "it's possible."

"You want to experience life," Ms. Honig said. "Modesty shouldn't hold you back."

Want to hear more about modest fashion? Come to Princeton in a few weeks to hear me speak about it alongside a bunch of smart, diverse women.

The post What Does Modest Fashion Mean? appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

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I began a new job this week. I have had a lot of jobs since I started Unwrinkling: good ones and bad ones, fashion ones and non-fashion ones. And I haven’t talked about any of them in this space very much, because I started this blog as more of a place to discuss the …The post Time for a little refocusing appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

unwrinkling fashion faith
Female factory workers during WWII, by Alfred T. Palmer

I began a new job this week.

I have had a lot of jobs since I started Unwrinkling: good ones and bad ones, fashion ones and non-fashion ones. And I haven’t talked about any of them in this space very much, because I started this blog as more of a place to discuss the overlap between fashion and faith rather than a place to discuss my personal life (though there’s some of that, too).

As I’ve grown in my knowledge of the industry, this has also become a place for me to think aloud about fashion in general, and that’s led to me writing about plenty of aspects of fashion that are of interest to me but not necessarily faith-related—from street style photography to the relationship between fashion and music. In the past year, I’ve used this space to share some of the things I’m proud of having written for other publications, and I’ve gotten more comfortable talking about my own journey, too.

But the reason I’m telling you about the new job is that it may shift some of that a little bit. I’m now working at a publication I’ve long admired, where I’m going to be cranking out more fashion-related content than I ever have before. That means I’m probably going to be writing a high volume of things that I’d be happy to have you read, but that don’t have an overt faith angle. (For example, this past week I wrote about the unwritten rules of street style photography culture and things you should know if you’re trying to start your own fashion label).

Now that I’ll have a more regular outlet to write about fashion in general, I plan to use this space to focus more specifically on fashion and faith, plus topics like ethical manufacturing that I see as being intrinsically related. I’ll likely still share some of the general fashion stuff I’m writing, but my ultimate hope for Unwrinkling is that it will be more of a destination for thinking through issues related to fashion and faith than a blog about Whitney’s writing. (And if the latter is what you’re here for, you can always head over to my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Fashionista page to see what else I’m up to).

Thanks for reading, friends. As always, please don’t hesitate to share with me if there’s something fashion- and faith-related that you’d like to see me cover.

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Here are the stories I've been thinking about (and a few I've been writing!) in the last week or so. Muslim women are scared to wear the hijab after Trump's win Whatever American political party you align with, the fact that you're here probably means you care about—or are at …The post Must Read: Wearing hijab in Trump's America, the best ethical winter clothes appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

muslim hijab trump
Image via Mashable

Here are the stories I've been thinking about (and a few I've been writing!) in the last week or so.

Muslim women are scared to wear the hijab after Trump's win

Whatever American political party you align with, the fact that you're here probably means you care about—or are at least interested in—Christianity or religion. If so, we probably have a common value for religious liberty. You can understand, then, why I was so heartbroken the morning after Trump was elected to read about Muslim women who fear for their physical safety if they continue to wear hijab in public.

I would hate to live in a country where I feared that going to Bible study on Wednesday nights might cause me to be the victim of a hate crime, and I don't want to see my Muslim neighbors forced to wrestle with similar questions that pit their religious convictions against their safety. More to come on this later in the form of the recording of my talk at Princeton, but for now, let's listen to Muslim voices and remember that true religious freedom can't just mean freedom for the little tribe we most identify with.

People are wearing safety pins as a sign of solidarity with immigrants

In the days after Brexit, some people in Britain began wearing safety pins on their clothing as a way of identifying themselves as safe for immigrants and people of color, who felt under attack (and sometimes, quite literally were). In the week since Trump's win, a similar practice has sprung up in the U.S.

Finding ways to express solidarity with marginalized groups is important and doing so through clothing and adornment is always going to be appealing to me. But the safety pin practice has already come under fire here in the U.S. from some. "A safety pin was an easy and lazy way to say… 'I'm one of the good white people,'" Viceland commentators Desus and Mero said on their talkshow. "Don't get your activism tips from Buzzfeed."

The best ethical winter shopping…

Let's be clear: capitalism will not save the world. It is not a system that excels at keeping bad people out of power or protecting the vulnerable. We can't fix a broken fashion industry by simply shopping for different kinds of products; we need to fundamentally rewire the way we think about consumption and business in general.

Because I believe these things, I've been hesitant to push products too much in this space in the past. I'm more interested in educating than in inciting new desires to buy, in myself or in others.

But I get asked by my in-the-flesh friends about what they should be buying and where they should buy it from, a lot. And I'm happy to help, because when you need to buy a sweater, I'd rather you buy an ethically-made sweater. So I rounded up some of my favorite ethical winter garb, in hopes that it gives you a good jumping-off point for your conscious shopping this season.

…and the ethically-made heels I've been drooling over

As an editor at Fashionista, I'll be presenting an "editor's pick" once a week of something I'd like to add to my closet. While I won't always share them here on Unwrinkling, I'm telling you about them because I'm committed to making sure my picks come from ethical brands I believe in every time. You can see my first pick here.

Adidas lost the latest round in its legal battle with a Wisconsin church

The German sneaker brand initiated a trademark battle with Christian Faith Fellowship Church over its “Add a Zero” trademark in 2009, which is making it difficult for the brand to register “Adizero,” a name used for one of its lightweight shoe lines. Though the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled in Adidas’ favor last year, the church’s appeal to the Federal Circuit resulted in a win this past Monday. The case will now return to the TTAB for further consideration of Adidas’ claims.

Online luxury retailer Farfetch launches a modest edit

Farfetch follows in the footsteps of online retailers like Pret-a-porter and modest-clothing-only retailer Mode-sty in offering curated and covered-up offerings. The modest edit, which Farfetch is referring to as Pret-a-Cover, will be jointly curated by Farfetch and the Islamic and Fashion Design Council (IFDC). Farfetch will also participate in a launch of a “virtual fashion week” for Pret-a-Cover to debut in COVER magazine, IFDC's publication, according to a press release.

And a few other faves

Some other things I've been particularly stoked about: I started a new column called "International It Girls," which is basically my way of sticking it to the tired old trope in fashion that everyone wants to look like a French girl. I have nothing against the French, but I've personally been way more inspired by the style of some Ghanaian women I follow (including my homegirl Aseye, who I've written about before). This is my way of highlighting them.

I wrote about legendary fashion critic Cathy Horyn's thoughts on fashion journalism. In short: fashion writers should be more "contentious."

And other news (not by me) about fashion and politics: people are burning their New Balance sneakers after a rep for the brand praised Trump and neo-Nazis declared their support for the "official shoes of white people"; the security around Trump tower has already cost retailers on New York's Fifth Ave shopping district millions due to the decrease in shopper traffic; no one’s sure what kind of relationship the Trump family is going to have with the fashion industry, but it might be pretty different than what the Obamas have enjoyed.

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Why talk about fashion when the world is going to pieces? I don't always know, friends. But in November, I had the privilege to speak about fashion and faith at Princeton University, and the reason it all mattered was really, really clear to me then. I had gotten the invitation …The post Muslims, Jews, and Modest Fashion in the Age of Trump appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

modest fashion muslim trump princeton university
It me, at Princeton.

Why talk about fashion when the world is going to pieces?

I don't always know, friends. But in November, I had the privilege to speak about fashion and faith at Princeton University, and the reason it all mattered was really, really clear to me then.

I had gotten the invitation months beforehand and I was excited about it and I told my friends and I asked people to pray for my words and I posted about it on social media. The panel would be on modest fashion from a religious perspective, and I'd be speaking alongside Jews and Muslims, some of whom have careers that dwarf mine, some of whom I've had professional-friend-crushes on from afar for awhile. I was nervous and flattered and grateful to be included.

I was trying to put together a talk that I could be proud of, especially in light of the fact that I might be the only Christian in the room. Still, I ended up leaving much of the writing up to the week before the talk. But that ended up being just fine, because less than a week before I was scheduled to go to Princeton, Donald Trump was elected President. And suddenly, anything that I could've said that was disconnected from that reality seemed irrelevant.

I've already written about how I woke up the day after the election and sat in my bed crying while I scrolled through Twitter, because so many of the Muslim women I follow were talking about the ways they felt suddenly unsafe wearing the hijab outside. I know I have readers (and loved ones) who voted on both sides of that election, but I feel like we should all be able to agree that a threat to one group's ability to practice personal, peaceful religious acts — like wearing a scarf on one's head — is a threat to religious liberty for any of us. And a threat to the physical well-being of anyone innocent should trouble all of us too, followers of Christ especially.

I was lucky in that I got to spend the next few days after the election on a mini-retreat with some of my best friends, so my writing time for the Princeton talk happened in bursts in between walking along Lake Michigan, cooking, crying, blind-contour sketching, dancing, singing along to Bob Dylan, praying and yelling at the stars.

Throughout all of that time of processing and writing, the faces of Muslim American women were before me. Some of them were old friends and some were people I met through working on this NYT piece and some I would meet for the first time at Princeton and some I ride the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan with on my way to work.

I was surprised, in the days after the election, to find that I've never been so grateful to be in the fashion industry. No argument about the alleged frivolity of fashion could touch me when it was so clear that here, fashion was serving as a connecting thread between me and the people I most wanted to be around: a group of individuals who were made more vulnerable than I by the way this nation had voted.

modest fashion muslim trump princeton university
From left, second row: Asma Uddin of altMuslimah, me, one of the Princeton Muslim Life student organizers, Laila Alawa of The Tempest. Front row: Reina Lewis of the London College of Fashion, Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik of Mimu Maxi, Sohaib Sultan of Princeton University

Fashion is deeply related to politics, though often in unspoken ways. A woman who wears hijab in settings where it may well be received with hostility will not pretend that her clothing choices are superfluous. I can almost guarantee to you that there is not an adult female alive in America today wearing the hijab in public who has not thought deeply about how this fashion choice relates to her identity and her politics and her beliefs about God.

So I went to Princeton, and I talked about modesty. I was asked to speak about life phases, regulation and resistance in the context of student life, so I spoke about my experiences with the well-intentioned but ultimately broken modesty rhetoric that was prevalent in my Christian community growing up. And then I talked about the things that have made me interested in talking about modesty again, despite all the ways I've seen it go awry — namely, the incredible Christian and Jewish and Muslim women who are doing it differently. They're women who are using modest fashion to build communities and deepen their pursuit of God and make political statements and perform their faith in public, in full view of a "secular" society.

You can listen to the talk here, and the conversation that followed between myself and Asma Uddin, founder of Muslim website altMuslimah.

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And when you're done with that, you should really consider listening to the talks that all the other speakers gave that day, too, or if you don't have time for that right this minute, consider following them on whatever social media channel you prefer for bite-sized bits of their perspectives. This weekend made it clear that America as a country still has so much fear and hatred for Muslims, even when they're fleeing great violence themselves. I hope that no matter how you voted, you'll take the time to really listen to the people you see as Other. This little handful of women may be a good place to start.

As for me, I'm glad that following the thread of fashion and faith led me to them. They have a lot to teach me.

Photos by Jack Meriwether

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Unwrinkling is four years old! The past year has been a full one, which is maybe something I say every year, but it feels truer than ever this time around. Here are a few of the big things that happened in the past 12 months: -I got my first bylines …The post Unwrinkling turns four appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

unwrinkling four yearsUnwrinkling is four years old!

The past year has been a full one, which is maybe something I say every year, but it feels truer than ever this time around. Here are a few of the big things that happened in the past 12 months:

-I got my first bylines at Billboard, the Hollywood Reporter, and Fashionista

-I wrote for the New York Times for the first time

-I spoke at Princeton

-I landed an editor job at Fashionista

It's kind of funny to me that I started Unwrinkling at a time when people were proclaiming that "blogging is dead," and yet it still opened so many doors for the kind of work I felt called to do. Even though blogging isn't where I focus the majority of my resources these days, the work I'm doing elsewhere — from the kind of stories I'm pursuing at Fashionista to the conversations I'm having on social media to the events I show up (or speak) at in real life — all come down to the same thing. I'm still trying to learn what it means to engage fashion from an intellectually and spiritually rigorous place. And I'm still trying to create resources that help others do that, too.

Unwrinkling has been a huge jumping-off point in that regard. The things I write for other publications may not be as laced with references to Jesus as what I wrote on here when I was just starting to blog. But that's in large part because my beliefs about ethical fashion and diversity and more — which flow directly from what I think God cares about — are things that I think worth talking about with anyone, Christian or not. I believe God is willing to accomplish God's purposes for garment workers and the environment through all kinds of people, including those who’ve never been to church, which is why I want to reach as many people as possible with information about how their fashion choices affect those things.

So I'm grateful, both for what Unwrinkling has been in and of itself and for what it has made possible in other spaces. And I'm so grateful to you, friends, those of you who read and share on social media and ask where to buy ethically made socks and celebrate new opportunities with me and call me out when I'm off track. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. Let's walk together for another year, shall we?

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If you, like me, spend more time on social media than on individual blogs these days, you may already have seen me share some of the below articles. But for the sake of my dad and the like one reader in Australia who are more likely to click on an email they subscribed to …The post Must Read: Do politics belong in fashion media, why I’m a fan of “Made in Africa” appeared first on UNWRINKLING.

If you, like me, spend more time on social media than on individual blogs these days, you may already have seen me share some of the below articles. But for the sake of my dad and the like one reader in Australia who are more likely to click on an email they subscribed to than a link in an Instagram bio, I’m compiling a list of some things I’ve worked on in the last few months. Enjoy!

Do politics belong in fashion media?

‘Maybe a decade ago you’d think, ‘Oh, I’m going to read my politics and then my fashion news and then my health news.’ Now, people see how those all go hand-in-hand. Something that’s decided in public policy could affect any of those areas.’

I’ll admit that I’ve critiqued women’s mags pretty harshly in the past for how they talk about fashion, represent bodies, and more. And to be honest, there’s still a long way to go on some of those things. But talking to editors from GQ, Teen Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour and more about their history of political reporting was eye-opening for me. (Turns out designers used this NYFW to make a lot of political statements on the runway, too).

IMG (the modeling agency that represents Gigi Hadid and Hari Nef) just signed its first hijabi model

‘It’s worth noting that Aden is not the first Muslim model to be signed by IMG, and there’s a real danger in equating “first hijabi” with “first Muslim woman” due to the ways it can lead to tokenism and the erasure of non-hijab-wearing Muslim women. Even so, it’s exciting to see someone who’s visibly Muslim — and making the modest clothing choices her conscience requires — celebrated by the fashion establishment.’ (For more on Muslim women doing interesting things in fashion, check out my colleague Fawnia’s piece on Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan, who was the first designer to do an all-hijabi-featuring show at NYFW last season).

I believe in Made-in-Africa brands:

I wrote about Uniform, a company making clothing as inexpensive and fashion-forward as Zara, but waaay more ethically, and I seriously can’t stop raving about the way they combine social responsibility, job creation, environmental awareness and good design. (Plus their jumpsuits are killer). I’m also really into this online luxury platform called Oxosi, which is trying to become Africa’s answer to Opening Ceremony or Dover Street Market. If anyone can succeed in putting Africa on the luxury map, it’ll be these guys.

What can fashion do about the Syrian refugee crisis?

Was the event this piece was written about largely a marketing ploy on the part of LVMH to make their luxury brand look more wholesome? Possibly, but since it gave me an excuse to link to UNICEF donation pages on a fashion website, I’m not complaining.

How to shop for ethical fashion:

I love when you all ask me questions about where to get ethically made jeans or prom dresses or ugly Christmas sweaters or whatever, but I’d also love for you to be informed about how to do ethical shopping on your own. I put together this little guide to help you out.

See where your favorite brands scored on the forced labor index:

A newish study by KnowTheChain ranks brands based on their efforts to eradicate forced labor (read: modern slavery) in their supply chains. Brands like Nike, Prada, Adidas, Gap and more are all on the list — click through to see where your faves landed.

My latest ethical fashion picks:

Good work-appropriate shirt dresses: number 1) and number 2); a gorgeous duffel bag and extremely trusty backpack; the sweater that won closet MVP while I was in Europe (seen in the pic above); a bralette made from vintage fabric; some simple white sneakers I’ve wanted for months; these crazy-cozy shearling-lined boots; a scarf so beatiful I’m probably going to hang it on my wall; an eco-friendly sports bra; purple iridescent flats that shine like beetles; and the pants that finally convinced me try going wide-legged.

Some other random fun: I ruined a sequin-encrusted dress in the washing machine so you wouldn’t have to; here’s what to do if you’re a fashion person who finds yourself with one of those weird 24-hour layovers in Iceland; PETA bought a stake in LVMH to fight for animal rights; how to wear (and shop) Native American fashion without being culturally appropriative.

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