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This article is part of our 2023 year-end campaign series, featuring reflections from prominent authors on why First Things matters. To make your year-end campaign gift now, visit

As the founder and operator of a fashion brand in New York City, I have a vested interest in the evolution of America’s cultural identity. My mission is to design works that disrupt the ideological and classist hegemony of our contemporary creative industries. Serious art requires vibrant subcultures that nourish artists’ imaginations. I believe we're living in a moment of cultural flux, and I’m striving to reinvigorate the fashion world with fresh blood and fresh ideas.

First Things has been a wellspring of inspiration and solidarity during this introspective process. My most recent fashion show was inspired in large part by an article I read in these pages, “What Is The Longhouse?” And of the many reviews of the show, from the New York Times to Vogue, the most substantive and illuminating commentary was written by First Things associate editor Justin Lee. It’s a luxury one rarely receives as an artist—to be met with such thorough, nuanced understanding of one’s work. It emboldens the soul, and inspires me to scrutinize my art more deeply. 

As if that weren’t enough, First Things also hosts movie nights for a diverse set of thinkers and creatives—including members of my avant-garde fashion world—to watch and discuss films together. The crowd includes many people from outside the magazine’s typical orbit, myself included, and we appreciate the Christian hospitality. Small gatherings like these make a richer aesthetic future easier to realize.

Please give generously to First Things’ year-end campaign to help continue this invaluable work.

Elena Velez writes from New York City. 

Image by John Atherton via Creative Commons. Image cropped. 

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