My vision when creating the Casual Priest collection was to strengthen ordained women in their professional role through clothing. I started the brand when a friend asked me to make her a clerical shirt. She wasn’t happy with the shirts on the market that seemed to be made for men. I suggested a comfortable, well-fitted jersey top instead, and when we got so many comments and requests for the top, I made a small collection of both jersey tops and dresses to show at the theological college in Uppsala, [Sweden] in the Spring of 2002. It was very well received by the students, and word spread about this new brand! I realized the need for clerical garments designed for women – not just another men’s shirt harkening back to a “male norm” or a male-dominated history in clergywear.
The challenge when designing attire for priests and deacons is to create practical pieces that look good, are simple and timeless, whilst communicating self-value and confidence. I have chosen to make items from a versatile and comfortable Viscose Jersey fabric, with excellent qualities that maintain color and shape. I am slowly allowing the collection to grow and develop by introducing new models and qualities. It is also important to think sustainably regarding the design process and for the garments, themselves. The quality is high, the design is timeless and we also have a No-Waste attitude in the studio. Out of our production scraps we create a new patchwork-fabric that refine what would otherwise be made waste. When the patchwork process is time consuming, we collaborate with a suburban parish that works with an integration project: They have started a studio where refugee women are able to work, and there is a particular Syrian woman who works there and makes this No-Waste patchwork for us. As a woman, it is important for me to empower other women. If I can do that through clothing, then I have succeeded.
Clothing represents who you are, and it is therefore important to feel comfortable, well-dressed, and confident in your clericals. I meet lots of women in ministry, and we often have lots of interesting talks about how you are treated as a woman and a priest. If your clerical clothes can give you a strength to come as you are and feel strong, you can meet people on a deeper level, I think. With these talks with women who are priests as my inspiration, I put together an exhibition… a few years ago [photos seen above]. It’s called “Casual Priest Stories.”