How Religion Affects Fashion and Fashion Affects Religion?

Do you like to wear chic clothes to please others? Or do you prefer to dress in techwear hoodies and jackets? Your clothing preference says a lot about you, because “clothes make the man”. With our clothes, we tell others a lot about our tastes, what we do, what we are up to, about our job and maybe even about our approach to life. If we suddenly dress very differently than usual, we even cause confusion.

Some religions do not want to distract from belief with outward appearances. Therefore, they have set up dress rules for everyday life. In some religions, they are followed by many believers very strictly, in others less often. In addition, there are vestments and utensils in all religions by which you can recognize important people such as a rabbi, a bishop or a pastor, an imam, a monk, an abbess, or the pope.

Fashion and its connection to Religion

Who wears Prada? For sure, many commoners have Prada but the Pope uses Prada too. And even if the Vatican assures that Pope Benedict XVI’s red Prada shoes are not fashion accessories, but a deliberately chosen liturgical symbol (red like the blood of Christ), makes the media attention for the courageous choice of the Catholic dignitary clear: fashion and religion have a long and intimate relationship.

Religion makes fashion

On the one hand, fashion designers influence the clerical wardrobe, but they are also inspired by it. In the collections of Christa de Carouge, Karl Lagerfeld, and Jil Sander, for example, there are dresses and coats that are definitely reminiscent of monastic traditions. And fashion designers like H&M and Nike have long been earning a lot of money under the “Islamic Fashion” label by stylishly covering Muslim women from top to bottom.

Politics is also made with religious clothing

But religious clothing is not only used for business, but also for politics. The religious scholar and historian Valentino Leanza observe that in recent years there has been a significant increase in awareness of the “visibility of religion” in this country. One reason for this is the increased migration of people from the Arab and African regions. “When a vote is taken on a ban on the burqa, this garment attracts a lot of attention. And the emotions that the piece of fabric triggers are used and reinforced, ”says Leanza. The advancing secularization is another reason why people react more strongly to religious signals in public spaces. Where religion loses more and more of its importance and is pushed into the private sphere.

Read also: The Role of Religion in Government

Fashion makes religion

The way you dress, whether religious, sporty, elegant, sexy, or conservative, is always a statement. Clothes are not only to protect against cold, heat, and prying eyes, they also clarify situations, create an identity, and help us to locate ourselves in society. The Muslim headscarf, the Christian decorative cross, or the Sikh turban clearly indicate which group the wearer belongs to. These signals work both externally and internally. That is why Valentino Leanza describes clothing as the “interface” between the inside and outside perspectives. An interface where complex weighing and negotiation processes take place.

Fashion and religion attract and repel each other

Fashion and religion have a lot in common, influence each other, attract and repel each other. The mother of the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was once prophesied that her son would become a clergyman. The oracle wasn’t that far off: Lagerfeld always appeared to the public with a white priestly collar and dignified waving. No wonder he was called “Pope of Fashion”.