FAITH AND FASHION. Entrepreneur Darla Wainscott with Gianna Emanuela Molla (r), the daughter of St. Gianna Molla; the saint inspired the name of one of Wainscott’s apparel offerings. Put On Christ Twitter
“It’s an innovative way to participate in the New Evangelization,” says Darla Wainscott of her exclusive clothing line.
“Put On Christ Apparel and Accessories is to the clothing industry what religious medals have been to the jewelry industry. We are a new take on the outward expression of one’s Christian faith.”
“Put On Christ” came into being just when athleisure sportswear was beginning to take off. Apparel with the comfort and ease of exercise clothing but designed for everyday use, “athleisure” wear won over consumers with the message that workout attire wasn’t just for the gym.
That message was not lost on Wainscott.
“I developed the Put On Christ business model based on what was happening all around me,” she said. “I’d go to the grocery store, the hair salon and even daily Mass and see people, the vast majority of them women, wearing the popular athleisure designs.”
Wainscott conceived of clothing that would take the wearer from “errands to exercise, but with an accent on modesty, a concept not grasped by many of the existing manufacturers of athleisure sportswear.”
And consumers are pleased with her initiative.
“Ellen Giangiordano, author of Wonderfully Made! Babies, a Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies, said, “When I first saw the Put On Christ fashions at the 2015 Catholic Marketing Conference, I actually thought, ‘Finally, someone who understands women who work out but want to stay modest at the same time!’”
The idea for modest workout clothing, coupled with a desire to “put Christ in our daily living” became, said Wainscott, “the foundation for Put On Christ.”
Each Put On Christ product is named after a saint and carries a “hang tag” that doubles as a prayer card.
Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and operating under the patronage of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Ignatius, the company also externally labels every one of its pieces with the “Put On Christ” logo.
A few of the pieces from the Put On Christ collection are the “Calcutta Fitted Tank,” the “Faustina Dress,” the “Joan of Arc Capri Active Set” and the “Goretti Jacket.” The garments are mindfully constructed so as not to be too revealing, with modest scoop necklines gracing dresses and tops and wider shoulder bands on tank tops.
The “Gianna Pant” is the company’s signature piece, a knit wardrobe essential that was recently presented by Wainscott to Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
As Wainscott recalled, “It was a highlight of my life!”
Although there are other “Christian lifestyle apparel brands, many of whom sell t-shirts,” observed Wainscott, “none are doing what I am doing.”
With its unique appeal, it’s no wonder that Put On Christ Apparel and Accessories, launched mere months ago, can already boast of return customers. Among them is Johnnette Benkovic, founder of the Women of Grace apostolate and EWTN host.
Wainscott points her company’s success to God: “The fact that I have started a clothing company is a testament to the power of the Triune God working in my life.”
It’s that faith behind the fit that really connects with customers.
“The Put On Christ line of clothing is especially relevant for me,” said Karen Barbieri, co-creator of Pietra Fitness in Ohio.
“Ours is a whole-person fitness program that integrates physical exercise with Christian prayer, while drawing upon the rich and timeless traditions of the Catholic Church. Pietra Fitness was recently at the Cincinnati Catholic Women’s Conference, and we all wore outfits from Put On Christ. How exciting that we can express our faith in our clothing as well as through our exercise program.”
Put On Christ also offers accessories to complement its garments.
After all, it was while Wainscott was putting on a pair of cross earrings that the inspiration for Put On Christ first struck. “Why not put on Christ with more than just jewelry?” she thought.
And so, the “Cortona Tote,” the “Chiara Headband,” the “Gemma Water Bottle” and the “Lourdes Scarf,” a beautiful infinity scarf with a Miraculous Medal sewn into the fabric, were born.
Says Wainscott of her work, “I have two goals: to bring Christ to people in a very relevant way and to meet people where they are.”
“Our prices are targeted to be 20% lower than our big-box competition,” she added, “even though our clothes are of superior quality and comparable with those of the most popular athleisure manufacturers. Additionally, every garment and every accessory is made in America, with 80% of our fabrics also made in the USA. In order to stay relevant, we want our customers to not only experience this unique expression of faith, but to understand the comparable value and to feel good about their overall purchase.”
“Making faith fashionable” is the trademarked tagline of Put On Christ, and it succinctly sums up the company’s vision.
“My inspiration comes from my Catholic faith,” said Wainscott, “and I wish to bring people to the fullness of the truth, including, but not limited to, lukewarm Catholics, fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. God can do great things with any of us if we just do three simple things — believe, be still and listen.”
Celeste Behe writes from