7.03.2008

FLDS fashions for kids sold on enterprising Web site


MOTHERS SAY TEXAS RAID FORCED THEM TO MARKET THEIR CLOTHING STYLE

By Brook Adams
ELDORADO, Texas - A new clothing brand may be born out of the Texas raid on a polygamous sect. FLDS women for the first time are offering their handmade, distinctive style of children's clothes to the public through the Web site fldsdress.com.

Launched initially to provide Texas authorities with clothing for FLDS children in custody, the online
store now is aimed at helping their mothers earn a living. The venture, which has already drawn queries from throughout the U.S., is banking on interest in modest clothes, curiosity and charity to be a success.

"We don't know what to expe
ct on demand, but we have had a flood of interest," said Maggie Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. "Our motive is not to flaunt ourselves or our religion before the world. We have to make a living the same as everyone does."

The initial Web site featured only photographs of clothes because the children were still in state custody. Now those are being replaced with photographs of smiling, beatific FLDS children modeling the fashions.

The sect is offering dresses, overalls, shirts, pants, nightgowns, sleepers, onesies for babies and, yes, ankle-to-wrist underwear. There are denim jeans for boys and "teen princess" dresses in plain, jacket and vest styles in pastel shades of pink, peach, yellow, green, aqua, blue, lavender and lilac. The dresses sell for $35.65. Women's apparel could be added if demand arises.
Jessop says Texas Child Protective Services was the inspiration for the enterprise. The department took custody of 440 children from the sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch in early April and eventually placed them in shelters throughout Texas, where they were expected to stay for up to a year. Most children had only a few changes of clothes - long dresses for girls and pants and long-sleeved shirts for boys, covering long underwear. "Some children had only the shirt on their backs, literally," Jessop said. By late April, some children had been told to stop using their unique underwear, and clothing was getting mixed up and lost on laundry days. That added to the pressure, Jessop said, to have the children don "gentile" - regular - clothes.

But the mothers resisted.

When CPS said there was no place to buy clothing that met the sect's dress code, the mothers had an answer. "We said, 'Yes you can. You can buy them from us,'" Jessop said. With their children gone, many mothers had idle hands, empty hours and a need to support themselves.
Often
described as a "prairie-style" way of dressing in the media, the uniform FLDS fashion has been targeted by critics and cult experts who considered it an example of brainwashing within the sect.

The style became widely followed under current prophet Warren S. Jeffs. But sect members defend it as an outward reflection of their valu
es that actually began roughly a decade ago. The transition was gradual, Jessop said.
Women wore out dresses that featured floral and gingham prints, flounces and frills, and replaced them with the plain, simple styles seen today. Jessop said the clothing preference is based on Biblical and Mormon scriptural references and a desire to apply those dictates more deeply to their lives.

"I really like wearing plain clothes," she said, because it is part of being able to "focus on doing things for others rather than on seeing how darling I can look."

2 comments:

Mindi said...

i know--holy shiz!! when i saw this website yesterday i almost puked. what in the HELL is the world coming to??? those crazy polygs. they piss me off.

Mindi said...

steph--my first memory of you goes WAAAAAY back, as well. i remember that you were one of the first non-mormon (gasp!!!) little girls that i'd met and i loved going over to your house because i got to look at your church's version of "the friend" and check it all out--oh, the scandal!!
isn't it funny how certain things in life, like this blogging, can bring people around full circle? i've enjoyed re-connecting!