The tides have been significantly shifting in the apparel world for quite some time now. Big name brands such as J. Crew, Gap, and Abercrombie and Fitch are getting hit hard by the new realities of how people shop.
Before the good ole world wide web transformed the landscape of shopping and life in general, these big name retailers and their designers controlled almost everything about the apparel game.
These retailers functioned based on their top designer's taste, expertise, and vision. And from these influences the product was birthed.
For so long, the shopper had to physically go into the store to purchase apparel which gave even more control to the retailers. The shoppers were completely reliant on the supplier as they controlled the trends, set the bar for the industry, and in short created the "absolutes" of fashion.
But now the landscape of the apparel world has radically shifted and these brands that thrived for so long are taking a serious hit.
So, what happened? What's the reason for the decline?
Instant demand. The internet changed so many things for our world and one of those things was not just the way shoppers shopped: it changed the reality of supply. The supplier is no longer the name of the game. These brands and their designers no longer set the bar for shoppers; it is instead the shopper who controls the process.
In short, the customer now informs the designer, not the other way around.
Recently, I was watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. She was interviewing three thirty somethings whom she deemed as top thinkers of the next generation. All three of the individuals being interviewed were wildly successful, they believed in God, were advocates of speaking the truth, and that in the end love always wins. As I sat and listened, I loved what I was hearing. Such forces, with such huge platforms, up on a stage saying that faith plays a critical role in their lives.
But the longer I listened, the longer that still small voice inside of me began to question these individual's belief systems. Do I believe in the same God they do? Was the spirit they were referencing the same holy spirit I longed to lead my steps? Did they too believe in the life, death, and resurrection of God's son?
The uncomfortable response: I don't know.
But I wanted to join in with them. It all sounded so good. And there were parts of that interview where I was nodding my head and applauding what was being said. Because some of it sounded so familiar to my own belief. But the longer I listened, the more I realized these varying beliefs in God did not align to "the way, the truth, and the life."
This version of faith being spoken did not represent an absolute truth in Him: the one who sent His only son to a die a criminal's death so that you and I could be free; and the one who said if you want to follow me, deny yourselves, pick up your cross, and then follow in my steps.
For the remainder of the afternoon, I could not get that interview and the apparel industry out of my mind.
The God our culture believes in has become much like the apparel industry.
The supplier, God, who is the master, the expert in all things, the absolute of absolutes, the divine creator of all, has been replaced by the demands of what culture wants out of Him.
We will take a little bit of grace, a little bit of forgiveness, a whole lot of love and then we create whatever product/belief system we want out of it and call it spirituality.
But the problem is we are not master creators. And our demands are never suppose to inform our supplier, the original creator of this world.
God is not meant to be viewed as a buffet style of characteristics where His followers get to pick what they do and do not want of Him. Following him is crazy hard, humiliating, humbling, and uncomfortable. There is divine freedom in Him but this freedom does not equate to selectable optionality.
And regardless of how things may land for us personally, our only response is to be that of trust, open hands, and immediate obedience... not a piecemeal selection of the top qualities of God based on our own tastes and preferences.
The idea is similar to if we humans controlled the weather. I would like all sunshine, a slight breeze and temperatures around the mid 70s. But if this is what happened every single day, the beauty of the plants, trees, and soils would die without the shade of the clouds and the rain from the storms. We need all the weather and the seasons, not just the ideal degree of day.
When I think about the end of my life and the day I will stand before my maker, I often wonder what His words will be as He takes account of my life. I fear, more often than not, that this topic is one where there will be highs and lows. I fear God may look into my eyes and ask me why I didn't trust Him and His perfect ways; why did I spend so much time trying to make Him into what I wanted Him to be; why did I embrace what culture said about Him instead of seeking Him for His absolute truths.
I want to get this right. And I want you to too.
May our faith and our understanding of God not be defined by convenience and comfort.
Romans 12:1-2 MSG
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.