Posted on Sat, Oct. 21, 2006 The Miami Herald.com
from full article)
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.
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.''
45, sells the ''Talmudic Tee-Chings'' on her website www.accentriciTEES.com
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.
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.''
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.
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 TheMustard.com 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
'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.
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.
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.''
Herald Article: Faith Meets Fashion
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