THE CHARACTER OF FASHION – A unique new book by Simon Ward, former COO of the British Fashion Council
DESIGN, clothing, fashion … they are strewn through the Bible: from the act of Creation to Adam and Eve’s first wardrobe; from the design of the tabernacle to the first priestly robes; from multiple imagery illustrating key principles underlying the life of faith, to the radiant garments clothing Christ in glory. Any suggestions that God and fashion simply don’t mix seem entirely off the mark.
In fact, quite the opposite: I would be so bold as to suggest that God loves fashion, with all the complexities surrounding it. And, yes, I think He revels in the challenges fashion throws up, as they test our ability to combine individual creativity with teamwork to achieve goals that can transform the lives of millions across the globe … with benefit to all, if we can get it right.
The stories shared in this book reveal that there are many paths leading into fashion, and this is reflected in the rich diversity of talented people involved. Forget the lazy stereotype of an industry inhabited solely by champagne luvvies and social media addicts who spend their entire lives swapping notes on the latest micro trend, unconcerned by how the rest of the world may be affected.There are a great many involved in the world of fashion who recognise, full well, that fashion isn’t everything, yet pour their best efforts into creating and selling clothes that can focus and convey identity, enhance individuality and help bring out inner beauty.
Is it an industry I would recommend to a youngster looking for a vibrant and challenging career? Absolutely. There
is much opportunity for those who are prepared to give it their best shot.
And as consumers we can be involved – are involved – through our purchasing decisions. We are all part of fashion.
YET … speaking to a range of people working in and around the industry, along with my own 35 years’ experience, it’s clear there are many ways of doing things that fall foul of what I believe to be God’s underlying heart for all human activity:
“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
How might God run the fashion industry if He was the boss?
1. FAIR PAY. All those working in the industry to be paid fairly for their work.
2. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. Opportunities to work in fashion to be extended to those with the ability and desire, regardless of their background.
3. FOCUS ON YOUNG PEOPLE. Particular emphasis to be placed on access for school leavers and young people with the introduction of a new framework of apprenticeships and other support schemes.
4. ETHICAL AS THE NORM. Ethically sound sources of production, whether in the UK or globally, to become the norm.
5. KINDNESS IS KING. Attitudes within the industry to be given a complete overhaul, with the elimination of all snobbery, backbiting and unkindness.
6. RESPONSIBILITY RULES. Immediate attention to be paid to the effect of the industry on the wider community, including attitudes to “beauty” and body shape and their impact on young people.
7. ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITY. Global recycling schemes to be explored to ensure unused clothing is easily and quickly moved to areas of need around the world – without damaging local supply chains.
8. BENEFIT FOR ALL. Social ownership schemes, where employees have a say in the business for which they work, to become widespread.
9. LIFE-WORK BALANCE. Sunday trading laws to be reviewed.
10. FORCE FOR GOOD. Fashion to become a leading force for good in the UK and around the world