Friday, August 5, 2011

Shopping for religious vestiture

A little over a year ago I did a quick comparison of religious item retailers (see here). Over the last few months I have had occasion to search out a good, everyday cassock for seminary. After talking with retailers I have used in the past for other purposes (ordination gifts, parish needs, etc.), with those stores known to be expensive, those known to be very cheap, those known to be slow or quick to ship, and even those known to be unreliable I settled on buying an off-the-rack podrjasnik from a tailor known to be a little slow in shipping things out, but a good value if you come upon one of his sales. At the time I had a few months for it to arrive and was willing to wait a bit as I yet lacked a blessing to wear a cassock anywhere, much less at the seminary.

I waited... and waited. Eventually I sent emails and made short, succinct phone calls (as the tailor is not a native English speaker). One day, out of the blue, the package arrived. I opened it and put it on only to find that my shoulders weren't going to conform to the space allotted. I sent another email and got an immediate response that I could ship back what I had for a larger version. Weeks have passed and no replacement has been sent.

So for fun, let's put together a list of retailers of religious vestiture. I'll leave off the current problematic tailor as I still hold out hope another package will arrive sometime this month.

Please do send me more resources to add. I'll put them on the list and make commentary as I learn more about them.


  1. Another alternative, which I've used several times, and know others to use all the time, is to get those going to Ukraine or Russia (or Greece) to scout out what you need in local liturgical shops over there. I got a decent dark set of subdiaconal vestments from Ukraine nearly a decade ago now for $50US. Things (e.g., the tricky-dicky candles you need for a hierarchical liturgy) that will easily cost you several thousand dollars here can be had for a couple hundred in Eastern Europe (Greece is pricier).

  2. Some monasteries and especially convents specialize in making cassocks and other church garments. St. Elizabeth's Convent ( is one example.

    I was thinking of shopping for another (washable) cassock online, but I'm rather reluctant, because online shopping can be such a crap shoot. Thankfully, I haven't had to pay for any of my cassocks; they were all hand-me-downs.

  3. is awesome. Even his off the rack items fit great. They are more expensive, but fitting is much better than Istok, who overall is decent. Liturgix's is the K-Mart of liturgical items IMO.

  4. I have ordered from Istok and am happy to vouch for them... yes, you have to wait a while (they ship from Russia) but I was very satisfied with the quality as well as the pricing.

    I also know clergy who have ordered from Nikita Borisov (linked in the directly comment above) and who have been very satisifed.

  5. I second
    I got one "off the rack." The sleeves were a little short, but there was enough hem to let them out.

  6. I am a perpetual "bargain shopper" when it comes to vestments and cassocks.

    About 12 years ago, I got an off-the-rack cassock from Nikita Borisov ($150). I wore it for years as a reader, and then during Seminary as a "beater" cassock on weekdays, and it is still holding up.

    The cassock ($100) and rjasa ($80) that I wear most of the time when I serve were purchased from the "Orthodox Christian Goods" store on e-Bay.
    The best thing is the fabric: it is wash-n-wear and wrinkle-resistant. I have had it packed in a suitcase for days, but within a short while the wrinkles are gone.

    Most recently, I purchased my priestly ordination vestments priestly ordination from a company in Iași, Romania.
    While I have an entire folder of bookmarks of websites for vestment producers in Romania, Ukraine and Russia, I went with this particular company because they had shipped orders to the US before. A full set of priest's vestments (with stichar and chalice covers) was $300, a cassock was $92, and a "fes preotesc" (skufia) was $18. On the plus side, the vestments are nice, and this company decided to surprise me by taking the vestments and having them blessed on the relics of St. Parascheva. On the negative side, they forgot to include the hat I ordered, and never responded to my e-mails. C'est la vie. Ordering online from someone in a foreign country is always going to be a risk, but it is one I may take again... with a different company.

    There are two places I have yet to try, but may in the future:

  7. Also, I saw a display of items by Nikita Borisov and spotted a cassock I liked. He told me to try it on and I said it wouldn't fit. "Yes it will." I tried it on and it fit like a glove. When he told me it was only $70, I couldn't resist. The man knows his craft!

  8. I commend to you Emily Sarisky at "Tabitha of Joppa" ( I know her personally. She made all the altar clothes and priest's vestments for my parish in Pennsylvania. I believe she also did Bp. Matthais' vestments but am not positive about that. She does fine work in a timely manner. I do not know about prices.

  9. A friend of mine who is an Eastern Catholic is a professional tailor & does beautiful liturgical work:

  10. is worth a look.

    I ordered my first anteri (in a synthetic fabric) from them via email and it shipped within two weeks from Greece, and it's held up perfectly for the past year. It was and is my "work" anteri, but it is still perfectly suitable to wear to services. It's machine-washable and wax comes off without a hassle. Somebody asked me just yesterday if it was new!

    I purchased another one (wool blend, rather formal looking, and dry-clean only) in person, State-side, from Alpha & Omega Church Supply (here in the Boston area, and it turns out they are supplied by Xiton, and apply very little mark-up). It wears well and breathes more than the synthetic.

    In my experience so far, Xiton has fair prices and quality products. The thing with them is that they have everything essentially made already, and they will adjust it to your measurements before shipping. This reduces the wait significantly.

    Of course, if you're looking for more Slavic-style garb, you may not find what you want...

    Also, if you're interested, I can look up the email I sent them and give you the types of measurements I submitted for them to be able to 'fit' it for me.

  11. Seams Heavenly is a friend, and I speak highly of her. I'll pass this post on to her.

  12. I'm puzzled by the Nikita recommendations. I ordered a cassock three weeks ago and although he was very kind in emails to the point of ordering, since I paid him he has refused to reply to even say if he received the order successfully, much less if it will be here in time. I have an event coming up in a week or so and may end up just wearing a shirt and tie.

  13. Herman, I had a similar experience. I waited for months for my cassock and it finally came without comment. Since I've had it almost every button has fallen off and the ties have come loose and had to be re-sewn.

  14. It's Lent and I feel horrible having to do it, but since I paid via PayPal I have opened a dispute (that is not a Lenten word). I feel bad about it.