Bishop Nigel’s recent article in Dundee Courier - Designer Labels


Designer Labels
“Those things which make us who we truly are defy designer labelling”


It has been reported that Rory McIlroy, the world No 1 golfer, is to receive over £12 million a year for the foreseeable future in a sponsorship deal from Nike the sports equipment giant. His youthful, clean-cut face will market the Nike brand in the media around the world.

Meantime the European Court recently upheld the right to wear a religious symbol at work. A British Airways employee Nadia Ewelda, who wore a small silver cross with her uniform, won a case against religious discrimination. She said that she felt vindicated as she did not want to feel ashamed of her faith. However, the Court indicated that such a right may be limited by other considerations, such as health and safety, which denied a nurse with a similar claim a victory.

So what is a designer label worth, and what badges signify our identity? At a local level it is sometimes argued that school uniforms provide a community identity, overcoming varied family circumstances that might lead to unhelpful comparisons and bullying. Companies and organisations spend considerable time and money building their corporate image so that their name, products and services are easily recognisable to potential customers. Fashion stores display clothes by designer ranges and televised football sponsorship is particularly lucrative.

Designer labels are of course meant to be visible, indicating where we shop and just how fashionable or well off we are. Yet there is something rather fickle and transient about superficial badging. Sometimes things backfire, as Nike found to their reputational cost when the darker side of their sporting ambassador, the now disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, was revealed recently.

Our 21st century obsession with celebrity and image rather than integrity and substance can be quite corrosive. I have led a school assembly using a couple of TV adverts – the Army’s ‘Be the best’ and L’Oreal’s ‘Because you’re worth it’ - to explore with the youngsters how important realistic self-understanding is.

In the Church we have a subtle take on all this. We use public Christian symbols, colourful robes and liturgies. But we believe that true significance costs nothing and is private. At baptism (Christening) the Christian sign of the Cross is traced on the forehead of the child or adult. Essentially invisible it is the ultimate designer label because it is indelible. It never fades nor goes out of fashion. It cannot be lost or forgotten or stolen. Likewise in marriage the public exchange of wedding rings on the big day is a reflection of the private, enduring commitment in the love of the couple. At a funeral, the eulogy may employ many fine words, listing the good deeds of the deceased, but it is the personal memories which linger in the tears and hearts of the mourners.

There is something very powerful about the interior life and those things which make us who we truly are. Things which defy designer labelling.

The Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton
Published in Dundee Courier 6 February 2013


Categories: Bishop