The Rev. Andrew O’Connor, who serves in what he describes as “the parish of Jennifer Lopez,” has an untraditional sideline. O’Connor, who has been making patterns since he was 16, designs and manufactures high-priced hand-sewn clothing out of hand-woven organic cotton fabric. Anna Wintour is a fan.
O’Connor, who is assigned by the New York Archdiocese to the Holy Family parish in the Bronx, started Goods of Conscience, his clothing line, after seeing back-strap weavers in Guatemala on a religious retreat. His company pays 24 mayan weavers to hand-weave fabric out of naturally-dyed organic cotton and custom reflective fibers which make it sparkle in the dark. The fabric is shipped to New York, where local immigrant workers in his parish hand-sew the clothes for $14/hr.
O’Connor’s company also hand-dyes denim for Alabama Denim, a similar project of designer Natalie Chanin’s which employs handworkers from her native Alabama. Alabama Denim is sold at Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman. Barneys is also considering carrying Fr. O’Connor’s line.