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Michael Katz, owner of Holyland Judaica Shop in Hollywood, FL, where Talmudic Tee-Chings t-shirts are sold, with Robin Stein of Accentricities. PHOTO BY SEAN MURDOCK; HOM PHOTOGRAPHY:
t-shirt article

t-shirt article


Religion & Values
Posted on Sat, Oct. 21, 2006 The Miami
(Excerpted from full article)
Wearing religion on your sleeve, or chest,
is becoming the hot new thing


When Robin Stein's son Morris was struggling through his bar mitzvah preparation, the North Miami Beach woman began thinking about fashion. Not the kind she would wear to the coming-of-age event, but the type of clothing that would deliver a message.

Stein developed a line of T-shirts with four inspirational sayings from Jewish teachings. One T says, ''We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. The Talmud.'' Another proclaims, ''True power is in the power over oneself. Perek Shirah.'' A third, with contrasting neck and sleeves, simply states: ''I am Grateful / Modeh Ani.'' And the last: ''613 Mitzvot'' -- the number 613 representing the number of commandments in the Torah.

''The shirts have a little grain of truth people can grab onto,'' says Stein, who selected the messages herself after studying ancient texts. ``You don't have to be Jewish to appreciate them, and if you are Jewish, it's a way to connect with your heritage.''

Stein, 45, sells the ''Talmudic Tee-Chings'' on her website and at two stores in Hollywood. Encouraged by the reaction, she's going to add five additional sayings to her upcoming line.''People are searching,'' she adds, ``and wearing something like this makes them feel good. It's uplifting.'' Stein's T's are part of a growing trend that stitches together faith and fashion. Even the trendiest stores -- from Urban Outfitters to Coconut Grove boutiques -- carry religiously inspired clothing. Shirts with such messages as ''Jesus is my Homeboy'' or ''Yo Semite'' across the chest are becoming increasingly popular among young people.

''From apparel to jewelry to music to movies, religion is the hot new trend,'' says Cynthia Cohen, president of Strategic Mindshare, a forecasting company, ``and people are wearing it for a variety of reasons. Somebody might wear it because it's cute and kitschy, and someone else might do it because they're truly putting their faith out there.''.


As religious fashion becomes more popular, choices -- in quality and in price -- also have become more abundant. The year-old Vox Sacra is a high-end Christian apparel Brand. The company's target market is men and women 25 to 54 with incomes of $75,000 and up. Its version of religious apparel is more upscale -- a silk-chiffon scarf sells for $75 and a long-sleeved shirt with silk appliqués and elegant renderings of a Bible verse goes for $120.
''There is a new movement of modern believers who are more in touch with pop culture and more willing to profess their faith through fashion, music and entertainment,'' writes Vox Sacra founder Shawn McNally in an e-mail. ``The fashion industry is on the cusp of merging with faith. This merging of fashion and faith is a mass response to a frenetic electronic world where people are exploring their belief systems.''

But has that exploration gone too far? It depends whom you ask. Some see the religious messages, even the cheeky ones, as a good thing, an antidote to the degrading messages of ''Ho'' and ''Bitch.'' They believe it's a hip way of communicating with a younger generation.''How would Jesus speak to urban youth?'' asks Joshua Estrin, president/CEO of Concepts in Success, a marketing firm. ''Perhaps he would dress and speak in a language that connected him to the people.'' Hence, the common T-shirt.


Yet, has business edged into blasphemy? Has the pursuit of fashion trivialized the sacred?
Sometimes yes, says Stan Hixson. He and wife Alice have been running since 2001, after their foray with ''Grace Happens'' T's introduced the Christian booksellers into the world of Christian apparel. Their webstore looks for ''creative ways to share the love of Jesus Christ with others through these awesome witness wear designs.'' Which is to say that they are selective in the Christian manufacturers they carry. For them, the message is more important than the medium.

'Some [shirts], we believe, trivialize faith and disrespect Jesus,'' he explains. ``Our customers do not want that.''The Hixsons' customers are motivated by faith, not the fact that Madonna was photographed wearing something. ''Of course they want it to be fashionable, but it's the message that compels people to purchase,'' he adds.

Stein agrees. When she began designing her T-shirts, she knew other manufacturers had already cornered the market with such cute sayings as ''Jewcy'' and ''Meshuggenah'' and ''Shiksa.'' She wanted something more substantial, clothing that expressed a way of looking at the world.

''Initially I thought they [the T's] would be great for the Jewish community,'' she says, ``but I think they go beyond that. It's about feeling good and doing good. It's about truth, and all religions can understand that.''

Miami Herald Article: Faith Meets Fashion
(c) 2006 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


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MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2007


Religion on My Sleeve / Robin Stein
Did you know that Eskimos have 30 different words for the word "snow," but they have "no" word for "time?" Well...words standing alone are neutral...they're tools waiting to build ideas. Their power comes from how we use them. There's this funny story told about the playwright Neil Simon. When he was asked how things were going with his new play he replied, "I found all the words I need in the dictionary. Now I just need to figure out what order to put them in." The intention behind our words is what gives them significance. It's what makes them either truthful or deceitful.'s a word that means "the love of words".... it's "logophilia." And that sounds like Robin Stein. This Miami resident not only loves words, she's motivated and inspired by the meaning behind phrases and their symbols. And she wears that passion on her sleeve. Visit

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