I remember that, around the time I was ordained, it was still rather difficult to find more traditional styles of vestments — whether those of the gothic style (but perhaps made in more noble materials) or of the Roman style. It was especially difficult to find those that were also affordable. Summorum Pontificum had only recently been promulgated; there was still not great demand for these things. Then, even if there were some firms that produced more traditional items, many of them did not yet have a web presence and so were difficult to track down. With rare exceptions, catalogs were generally still full of the unworthy (and over-priced!) vestments that had filled many sacristies in recent decades.
In particular, I wanted to have a nice stole for when I gave my first priestly blessings. I recall searching Italian-language catalogs to try to find something nice in a more Roman style (that again, was also at least somewhat affordable). What I got was surely nice for the time, but there are nicer (and generally more affordable) things that are available now. A lot has changed in a relatively short time.
With that said, I’d like to share some of the vestment makers (in no particular order) that I have done business with on the personal and the parish levels. These firms are producing fine-quality items, typically made from noble materials (silks and the like, exceptions will be noted), usually at quite fine prices also. So here goes — with the name of the firm, their URL(s) in parentheses, various photos, and then my notes for each:
* * *
SACRA DOMUS AUREA (Facebook page)
The Italian woman who runs this firm does very high-quality work and is quite eager to please. She is also very proficient in English. While she generally makes things in the Roman style, she has examples of other styles and is quite versatile. Contact her to discuss your project. Her prices are very reasonable and production times seem efficient. As of this writing (10/23/19), I believe she has several unique items in stock and ready to ship. Her Facebook page has many photos of the different sets she has recently produced.
* * *
A young man from Poland, Adam Blawat, runs this firm. While he tends to use synthetic fiber fabrics more for a lot of his works (for example, the white gothic chasuble pictured above, which I personally own, appears to be about 100% polyester or similar man-made fiber materials), his quality is superb and his prices are very fine. The precision with which he assembles his vestments is simply outstanding, especially when compared with some much higher-priced makers. I have found that you can share your ideas with Adam and he will strive to come up with something that realizes your vision; while he does have quite a few “standard items” in his portfolio, he is also very good at custom work. His web site and Facebook page have many photos of his work.
* * *
A French lady who lives in England, Geneviève Gomi, runs this shop using traditional methods and fine materials. Geneviève has several “standard designs” in her portfolio but can also make whatever you like. She also has a capacity for doing custom embroidery in high quality. Generally speaking, wait times for her custom work are reasonable — usually no more than a few months. I would gauge her pricing as “medium”, though the quality and variety of what she does, as well as the unique types of things I have not seen elsewhere, make the cost quite worth it. I highly recommend Geneviève’s work!
* * *
THE SANCTUARY GUILD (Website)
Deirdre McNamara recently created the above-linked web site for her long-established vestment business. A particular feature of her work is that she has in her studio many no-longer-produced unique trims, mostly in mid-century styles (as pictured in the black chasuble and white stole above). Deirdre prefers to use silks and other natural fiber fabrics and can make virtually anything you want. Her pricing is quite reasonable (especially for an artisan based in the US) and the quality of her work, using traditional, time-tested methods, is superb. She has some unique stoles in stock on her web site currently. Contact her with your ideas for a special project.
* * *
The above are some of the firms I have worked with for custom work on behalf of myself, my parishes, or others in recent years. There are certainly many others on the market. I encourage you to check the web site for Liturgical Arts Journal, in particular, as well as that of the New Liturgical Movement, to find other makers (listed in their articles and also featured in the advertising in their sidebars — be sure to use the desktop version of these sites to be able to see all the advertising for liturgical artisans).
I am not being remunerated by any of these companies to recommend them, nor have they asked me for advertising. My goal in sharing this information is to help others to see that good-quality work is available — much more easily today than in recent times! — and encourage parishes and individual priests to seek out this quality for their liturgical worship of the Most High, Who always deserves our best!