If you were a teen in the Christian/church culture of the Noughties, you probably went to Soul Survivor, New Wine, Spring Harvest… even conservative ones like the Keswick Convention. Now, part of going to these big Christian was that there was a marketplace of some kind where we could pick up everything a good Christian needs. Not just Bibles and books. These marketplaces, which were sometimes just one supposed book shop (we’re looking at you, Wesley Owen circa. Keswick Convention 2004) or sometimes 20+ stalls, also sold clothes!!!! Like I said, everything that a good Christian needs.
These clothes were typically t-shirts and hoodies with intentionally (embarrassingly) Christian sayings. You had the funny: “God the Build”. There was the philosophical: “Only dead fish go with the flow” complete with a ><> swimming the opposite way to normal fish. And then the blatant evangelistic Bible verses and Christian mottos.
Now there is nothing wrong with these. What is wrong with them is that we only ever wore them around other Christians, typically just for the week of the conference and then at church events. Why did we only wear them around other Christians? Well, it was largely because we were embarrassed about them. I know I was, though I’m not sure if it was the “Christian-iness” of them or the fact that the humour was horrendous… probably a bit of both.
So I have this green top…
I gave up on the Christian fashion trend for a while… like most of us I suspect. The only items I had that gave away my faith was my CU hoodie (a necessity for Mission Week), various necklaces, and my WWJD wristbands (I still wear my PUSH one… 90s/00s kid at heart). Nothing quite as big as a hoodie telling you that only dead fish go with the flow, and everything that implied.
It wasn’t until I started properly diving into the world of blogging, namely fashion and modesty blogging, that I started exploring the realm of Christian clothes again. I learnt a couple of things but here were my biggest lessons…
- The slogan-based styles are still rampant even if the fonts, designs, and wording had.
- I can be selective about what I like, predicting what would be embarrassing before I bought it.
- Wearing slogans that reference Bible verses, aren’t embarrassing. Instead they are an opportunity.
So I have this green top with white writing that pretty much sums up those three lessons. (Super old Instagram here) It’s just a regular green, crew cut top, although it is made of bamboo so a little trendy in ethical/sustainable circles. The different is that across it is “The Word Is…”, which is a reference to John 1:1 along with being the name of the brand. Only three words but because they weren’t stereotypically “Christian-y” or accompanied with cheesy images I feel comfortable when wearing that top.
“Christian Fashion” in the Present
Since discovering The Word Is, I’ve rediscovered a relationship with what “Christian fashion” means. There is the modest strand, which is totally different for each one of us. I favour maxi skirts and midi skirts while I know girls who are perfectly happy and feel modest in what fashion would term a mini skirt. It’s a mine field, not least due to judgements people make, but is very much a part of how Christians navigate fashion and clothes. (Keep your eyes peeled for a conversation in the near-ish future with my friend, Ceri, going further into modesty and what it can look like!)
Then there is the emblazoned-across-your-chest, slogan-wearing Christian brands. But these aren’t just the cheesy ones of my youth, though they still exist. Christians brands, much like The Word Is, are becoming more attuned to the fact that we don’t want to wear something that is akin to bashing someone with a Bible. So word-for-word Bible verses are out, along with “funny” in-jokes that only people who speak “Christianese” will understand. They aren’t really as popular today. Instead, slogans that make you ask questions like “What is The Word?” or that are a visual reminder of the person that we aspire to be are in…
… or at least in if you’re the type of person who wears slogan tees. Obviously not everyone is 🤷🏻♀️
Does this mean we all need to go out and buy Christian slogan tees? No (although I will be encouraging you to do so in a moment…). First of all, variety is good and having words on every single top we wear is not particularly varied. Secondly, why wear something you don’t enjoy? So, if you don’t want words emblazoned across your boobs (it’s not a modesty issue because where else are we going to print them on a top???) then just don’t wear those tops.
HOWEVER, if you are a fan of the slogan tee, I have got some fantastic news for you!!!!
Introducing Chaya Creates
Last year, as part of the rewards for those who helped to fund FindingChaya.com, I designed a t-shirt for those who chose the fashion box. Even more exciting, I partnered with The Word Is to bring the t-shirts to life! Ethical cotton t-shirts that, according to my friends so bias has to be acknowledged*, are comfy and brilliant for grabbing coffee with friends or slouching round the house.
But, because I tend to be over-enthusiastic about my projects, I ordered too many. And then I decided that I had enjoyed the process of designing t-shirts so much that designing another two slogans was the obvious thing to do…
But what to do with these t-shirts? Well, why not share the joy by selling them? So that’s exactly what I have decided to do! Chaya Creates is the newest addition to Finding Chaya, serving two purposes:
- The boring one I don’t like talking about – it is a way to financially support FindingChaya.com. Unfortunately it isn’t cheap to run a website but I want to provide the content on the blog for free. (Before you suggest ads… just no, sorry!)
- When I get excited about something, I want to share it with EVERYONE! And I love these t-shirts! They are honestly so comfy and look amazing tucked into skirts or jeans.
Am I hoping that these will bring the slogan tee back on trend? No, I’m not because, if I’m honest, I don’t really do trends. Am I hoping that these t-shirts might appeal to women and girls who want to start conversations and ask the big questions in life? YES!
Finding Chaya is about figuring out what a full life looks like; how Jesus intended for it to look; and how we can live in a way that is full. Chaya Creates is an extension of this. T-shirts that encourage you to keep asking that question “What is a full life?” or remind you to be B R A V E every day. Bible studies and verse cards to help you explore what God has said about life. And more to come.
The end message here? Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to wear Christian brands. But if it’s something you want to do, we can all be super grateful about how far they have come in the last 10 years. Now it’s more akin to sparking conversation than cheesy jokes no one gets.
So if you were embarrassed by Christian-y clothing as a teen, I promise it has got better. And if it hasn’t in your opinion, then tell me why in the comments below or get in touch. Maybe we can start to change things through Chaya Creates?
*Can you tell I have a history degree?