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The Dorcas Dress Project – Fastening faith and fashion together

5th January 2018

Faith and fashion

Here at Hammond and Harper we like to keep our ears to the ground for interesting stories and items that we think you, as members of the clerical community and our customers, would like to hear about.

That being said, we are pleased to say that we’ve recently encountered a new fashion retailer, with a different way of doing business. The name of this aforementioned retailer is The Dorcas Dress Project and we’d like to tell you a little bit about them…

It was back in September 2017 when we were politely approached by the founder of The Dorcas Dress Project and asked if we would like to help bring the organisation to the attention of clerics across the world.

We duly obliged, as we agreed that this is something that would likely strike a chord amongst the clerical community.

The story behind the project

The Dorcas Clerical Dress Project is a relatively new initiative, which was set up by student of theology, designer, and dressmaker Maria Skoyles. Her motivation for business is to foster a different way of operating in the modern fashion industry.

It was in 2016 when Maria resolved to design a dress which could be produced in such a way that it would help to empower the voiceless in the fashion supply chain. Ultimately, her labours bore fruit, as she was able to develop a patented design, which is at the heart of the project.

Initially, Maria found her inspiration when she was working to answer one of her theology assignments, ‘‘exploring how God chooses us to manage and rule over the earth (Genesis 1v28), with justice and integrity as part of our everyday work patterns’’. It is fair to say that what started as a theology assignment has now grown into something far more…

How do they do business?

At the core of the project is a desire to mirror the qualities of its biblical namesake: Dorcas, who was a disciple, dressmaker and someone who supported the poor. Similarly, The Dorcas Dress Project seeks to support the poor and nurture people out of situations of hardship and fairly reward them for their skills and efforts. With ethical Christian values at its core, it is proving to be a prophetic statement in the world of fashion.

There is an ethical pricing structure, placing an importance on ‘transparency’ through the supply chain, which represents a faith driven focus. The project makes a point of recognising the hard work of their dressmakers, as this reflects the Christian values which underlines their business model. Subsequently, to act upon such values, their dressmakers receive 30 % of the recommended retail price of the finished goods (before tax), which represents a fair deal by industry standards.

Moreover, the dressmaking beneficiaries of the project are provided with resources and training to make dresses. The knock-on benefit of this training is that the new dressmakers are then offered work and paid at a level which fairly reflects their dressmaking craft.

What pleases us most at Hammond and Harper is the desire that The Dorcas Dress Project has to extend its generosity towards deprived people in all corners of the world. Perhaps 2 Timothy 2:6 ‘the hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops’ would be apt to flag at this point.

The dress design

The clerical dress itself was specially designed so that it could be made by those with access to very few resources, which is so often a barrier to a better life. The dress itself requires no fastenings or trimmings and can be made on a basic straight stitch sewing machine –what an intelligent idea! 

Once again, this offers another nice parallel with the projects namesake. During the first century Dorcas had to make clothing with very limited resources and it is nice to see that the Dorcas Dress Project is set up in such a way that people living with very limited resources today can still produce something of quality to help themselves out of hardship.

At Hammond and Harper ordering our clerical wear is easy, but it does involve picking the right size, which is why we work hard to maintain the quality fit of our products. However, the products within The Dorcas Dress Project are designed differently. They are designed to be inclusive of all and reflect the vast diversity of God’s people: made in just one size, it will fit anyone and will flatter any body shape or size. Moreover, the neckline can be gathered around the neck and the cross-over back provides shape and comfort, so they can be worn on those long days.

As part of the support we offered Maria we supplied some clerical shirts for her recent photoshoot. There has been some early feedback from members of the clergy that they think the garments work well together. We certainly think they make for a great combination !


What next?

Currently operating in the UK, Maria hopes to harness the energy of the projects fledgling following and expand to deprived communities abroad and we hope that Maria succeeds in this goal.

For more information about the Dorcas Dress Project, please visit their website.

You can also purchase the clerical dress range through their Etsy store

You can purchase women’s H&H clerical shirts from https://hfdns.co.uk/hh/product-category/shirts-for-women/

References & Reading