The “gravitational pull” and market forces

I learned from my friend Fr. Ray Blake, mighty p.p. in Brighton, that the Belgian liturgical goods maker Slabbinck is now making – I am not making this up – Roman vestments.

Their stuff has never been my cup of tea, and these aren’t true “Roman” vestments.

The fact that Slabbinck has added these to their catalogue is the sign of the times.

And they have black!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Alex S. says:

    Ugh, why do they have grey vestments? What are those for?


  3. Tom L says:

    They have been offering these for quite some time.

    They have better chasubles in the Gothic style:

    One of their sellers once told me they also sell to Anglican, which explains the blue cassocks for choirs…

  4. Grey ….
    By coincidence I visisted the website of “Kosciól Starokatolicki Mariawitów w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej ” and they wear grey cassocks and birettas.
    I made a post with pictures on my blog “”.

  5. Blaise says:

    Out of interest, why are they not true “Roman” vestments?

  6. Phil_NL says:

    They do have matching maniples (!!), so that can’t be it ;)

  7. Centristian says:

    Beginning two or three years ago I noticed a number of different vestment makers were adding fiddleback chasubles to their lines. Slabbinck, as you point out, but also Hayes & Finch (UK) and amongst the “catalog group” vendors in the USA, Chagall, MDS, Theological Threads, Veritas Polska, and even Beau Veste, if you can imagine. Most European makers seem to offer them, as well.

    Not only are fiddlebacks popping up left and right in catalogs but the selections, in general, are becoming more traditional in flavor, and there’s alot more lace out there than there was a decade ago. Things like vimps, fringed shoulder capes for acolytes, chorister skullcaps and neck ruffs, white sacristan gloves, and other “fru-fru-sheh-nay-nay” accessories also seem to be making a retail comeback.

    Despite all the better things that are being offered these days, I note with dismay that alot of clergy who purchase through our diocesan purchasing office still gravitate toward the hideous. Slabbinck remains a very popular vendor; alas that is so because of the ghastly designs they’ve always offered much more so than the lovely things they’ve begun to offer. Catholic clergy still have pretty poor taste, by and large, at least as far as I can tell from my seats in the stadium.

    At least the American clergy. It seems that alot of our more traditional inventory (we have a shop attached to our office) gets snapped up by Canadian customers who’ve popped across the border for a shopping spree. The handsomer, more expensive vestment designs will sit for months at a time (as the cheap polyester crap flies off the racks), then suddenly a gaggle of Canadians on a shopping spree will descend upon the place and scoop up all the good stuff up. Happens all the time. I’ll bet they’re Anglicans, though.

    Guess who places the most orders for custom traditional fru-fraw: Black Protestants. We get more orders from the Church of God in Christ for traditional Catholic vesture than from any other customer base. They can’t seem to get enough of cassocks and birettas and ferraiolones and mantelletas and lace rochets and surplices and purple prelate shirts and everything else that used to make the Catholic clergy look Catholic.

    I’ve actually placed an order for some baroque “shovel” stoles from Slabbinck. I wonder how quickly they’ll sell. Next time around I’ll bring in a fiddleback or two. I’m curious to see what the reaction will be.

  8. irishgirl says:

    I remember Slabbinck from my former employment in the local Catholic bookstore-also Beau Veste, too!
    Centristian-what does ‘fru-fru-sheh-nay-nay’ mean? Sounds like a phrase in a 1950s ‘doo-wop’ song (I’m kidding!).

  9. Centristian says:


    From Webster’s…

    Fru-fru-she-nay-nay\froo-froo-shuh-n?-n?\adj. 1: charmingly archaic and slightly over-the-top in a way that some might deem faintly ridiculous in a contemporary setting 2: just too precious for words

  10. Stephen Matthew says:

    Unlike irishgirl I actually don’t know what that means and actually do think it sounds like something out of a 50s doo-wop.

    I will agree about the black churches. They have a liking for fancier vesture, more interior decoration, fancier titles (my dad sold a used van once to a “bishop”), and all the like borrowed from us in some sense than do any other sort of Protestant I can think of here in the US. The interesting thing is some of the stuff they are coming up with on their own, for example some of the embelished cassocks at Murphy Robes, which take the traditional and add a particular, unique twist or style to it.

    Interestingly the younger priests I see tend to have a preference for nicer stuff. For example if you look at the albs worn by different folk, you will see some of the more recently ordained have lace inserts, and the Asian priests I have been around lately seem to like embroidered bands on the albs. (I mention abls because I see a lot of different concelebrating priests and while they borrow the rest of their vestments they usually bring their own albs.)

  11. frbob says:

    Last year i rescued two fiddleback chasuables that needed repair as well as new stoles and maniples. Having contacted a religious goods store in Cleveland for help they sent them to Slabbink. The items returned today and they have done an amazing job. The real gold thread on the white chasuable was coming loose everywhere but every piece has been repaired and the workmanship is very good, and clearly done by hand. The new stoles and maniples match beautifully and the new linings are well done. I am really impressed!

Comments are closed.