I decided yesterday to take some time out to visit somewhere I hadn't been before - Bicester Shopping Village! I have been to outlet shops many times before, but was amazed at how very up market this one was. All the big names were here - a bit like a discounted Bond Street. In fact I was overwhelmed - competely outside my comfort zone.
The shops appeared to be full of tourists in search of that designer bargain. Great for the economy, and it was good in the light of the recession to see so many people around - all carrying their (more upmarket) designer carrier bags. Designer labels are an interesting concept, on the one hand there are retailers priding themselves on offering quality goods and on the other it is all about a brand and branding. The irony is that we pay more to assist a retailer to do their marketing for them.
Whilst most of the big names at Bicester (after a discount) are out of the league of those on a clergy stipend - and how would you wear most of it with a clerical collar ? I do have some labelled goods in my wardrobe, I suppose on a smaller scale it is about quality and style. But, mostly I walk around in clothes which cannot be easily attributed to any particular store. I would like to say it is because I want to be 'me' rather than a walking advert for a shop.
This is all very interesting having just read St Paul's letter to the Galatians. At an age when for many people today identity is all about what is on the surface - the expensive brands they buy, whether it be clothes, shoes or handbags, Christians are called to wear their label through how they live. For us it is not about Gucci, Jimmy Choo or Versace, it is about faithfulness, goodness and kindness.