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Altar'd State: How Free Market Can Make Christian Clothing a Success

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Terrance Emerson | Dreamstime.com

By    |   Friday, 09 November 2018 04:49 PM

As you wander the malls this holiday season, a couple stores down from Victoria's Secret you will find a women's retailer named Altar'd State.

A total of 550 more people will join their ranks this shopping season — courtesy of a very successful Christian clothing retailer — and an extremely successful economy.

It’s a story that hasn’t gotten a lot of press — possibly because it reflects well on the president, the free market — and (heaven forbid) conservative Christianity.

Altar’d State — which specializes in women’s apparel — is one of the most successful stores you’ve probably never heard about in the news.

It’s only about 10 years old now, but since its founding back in 2009 — in the trough of the worst recession in a generation — it has grown from a single store in Knoxville, Tennessee, to 100 outlets in 19 different states in the South and Midwest — and a multi-million-dollar payroll.

Some of which the owners — Aaron Walter and Brian Mason —tithe back, helping people the Christian way — which is profoundly different than the government way. Religious people give from their own pocket, government takes from yours.

They help freely — with their own money.

Almost $8 million so far. Including funding employee volunteering (8,200 hours to date) at local charities (Mission Mondays) as well as sponsoring needy children in South America, who receive educational, nutritional and psychological support without any taxpayer support.

Which probably explains why you haven’t heard about them.

That — and the company’s overtly Christian ownership — and message. Political correctness encompasses toleration for almost everything except Christian messaging.

“Serving as an inspiration, empowering others, by giving more than we receive, we stand out for good to glorify God,” reads Altar’d State's mission statement.

The horror.

For some, this amounts to the same thing as, well, a crucifix does for Dracula.

Interestingly, the clothing sold by Altar’d State is not overtly religious - or even political. No MAGA hats, or WWJD shirts, just tasteful competition for Abercrombie & Fitch, H & M or Anthropologie.

It’s mostly “Bohemian Chic” — entirely secular lace and crochet detailing, blouses and wraps — marketed toward women ranging in age from teens to their moms. You might find T shirts with "I Hate Mondays" or "Will Work For Brunch" logos — or a wall hanging with a pithy saying such as "Be Nice or Leave" on it.

A towel set with a verse from Philippians stitched on them is about as heavy on the preaching as it gets at Altar'd State - and you can find that kind of thing at any Hallmark Store.

It’s hard to see why anyone could find fault — much less take offense. Altar’d State's legions of happy customers obviously don’t.

A few mean-spirited articles have popped up, elliptically critiquing the company for having prayer request books in dressing rooms and Christian-themed music in the background. But nothing is being pushed on anyone — and the bottom line, as the owners have repeatedly explained, is what sells isn't so much faith in Christ as it is appealing clothes at good prices in a nice environment. Perhaps women want to shop in a place that's not a hypersexualized freak show?

That is what provides all those jobs — enables the company to help all those people in a way the government never could.

“Yes, we are a Christian company and most Christians pick up on that while shopping at our store,” a company spokesman told a reporter from Politichicks, a conservative blog.

“However, we like to think that no matter what your religion is, you can feel at home at Altar’d State.”

Faith may meet meet fashion at Altar’d State — but you don’t have to have faith to like (or buy) — the stuff they sell there. Nor will you be treated any differently there if you’re just shopping for clothes.

“We’re a faith-based company,” Walters explains … “(but) we have individuals from all backgrounds, all lifestyles, all beliefs who work for our company . . . “ Even atheists, like good clothes and prices. The free market will always outpace a gimmick.

“We’re accepting,” Walters says. “What we’re trying to communicate there is living our faith.”

And perhaps that's the problem . . . from a certain point of view.

Some unkind writers have mocked Walters — and Altar'd State — for saying such awful things. The fashion industry blog Racked, for instance, ran an article earlier this year in which Walters was described as "rambling on" when he told their reporter that “You should give to people in need.”

It is hard to imagine any mainstream media outlet characterizing anything said by Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton as "rambling on." Interestingly, Racked’s parent company — Vox media — had to close down Racked not long after that article ran. The snippy, condescending coverage may have had something to do with that.

Meanwhile, Altar’d State continue to grow — in tandem with the Trump economy.

That both have been able to achieve such spectacular success in the face of hurricane force gale winds blowing forth from people who seem to want economic failure if it means political success for them - or just for spite's sake — shows what's possible when you have faith.

Americans vote with their wallet and this holiday season they will be giving Altar'd State a second look.

A.J. Rice is the CEO of Publius PR. In his media career he has produced or promoted Laura Ingraham, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Monica Crowley, Steve Hilton, Anthony Scaramucci, George P. Bush, Pastor Paula White, Walter E. Williams, Coach Howard Schnellenberger, and many others. Find out more at publiuspr.com.

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As you wander the malls this holiday season, a couple stores down from Victoria's Secret you will find a women's retailer named Altar'd State.
free, market, christian, clothing, altard, state
Friday, 09 November 2018 04:49 PM
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