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Jesus chic is latest fashion trend
Updated: 2004-05-10 10:08

He's a movie star and a pop culture icon, thanks to "The Passion of the Christ" craze at the box office. And now Jesus is also a fashion statement.

Like a prayer? Madonna's T-shirt shows her support for the virgin mother. [AP]

A slew of designers and boutiques have been jumping on the Jesus bandwagon, offering everything from T-shirts to belts paying homage to the Lord. And celebrities from Madonna to Pamela Anderson have been spotted sporting the Jesus chic wear.

"It's a fun, little Hollywood trend that was sparked by the success of the movie," said E! Networks lifestyle director Elycia Rubin. "Obviously, fashion influences movies and movies influence fashion."

A Los Angeles company called Teenage Millionaire makes shirts that say "Jesus Is My Homeboy" and "Mary Is My Homegirl." Madonna was seen wearing a Mary shirt; Pamela Anderson and Lara Flynn Boyle have been running around in the Jesus Ts, and Ashton Kutcher was photographed with a "Jesus Is My Homeboy" baseball cap on.

"We looked at the popular icons of the 20th century and Jesus definitely topped the list," said Chris Hoy, a partner at Teenage Millionaire. "This shirt has been in our line for about three years, but it's just now getting all the popularity. The movie’s out; there's just a big buzz."

Other shirts bear the Jesus fish symbol and the phrase "Go Fish." One line by an L.A. company called Datomana features frilly pink Ts with cats on them that say "jesus loves me" in tiny letters. And an Arkansas company called Kerusso makes T-shirts with slogans like "My Savior is Tougher Than Nails!"

There are also belts and buckle bracelets engraved with the Ten Commandments. The anti-pornography site XXXchurch.com sells Jesus action figures and action figure Ts that say "Don't Make Me Kung-Fu You."

"The Christian items are such a hot trend right now," said Jaye Hersh, owner of the L.A. boutique Intuition, which sells some of the Jesus chic items. "Madonna has been wearing ‘Jesus Is My Homeboy,’ so that kind of started the trend because she is such a fashionista and whatever she wears goes. Then it's kind of trickled down to other celebrities."

Jesus wear has long been available in Christian apparel stores, but now it's popping up in mainstream chains like Urban Outfitters.

"It's everywhere. It's at all the stores," said Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com. "This is the latest thing. A lot of people are wearing them not because they want to display their relationship with God, but because it's the cool thing to do."

The "Homeboy" shirts retail for about $25, and Hoy said they're selling thousands of them a month.

"This is definitely our most popular shirt that people know us for," Hoy said. "Our little piece of Hollywood has gone worldwide, and it's beyond my wildest dreams."

E! Networks’ Rubin called the Jesus chic style "kitschy" and "playful."

"It will probably be short-lived, but they'll probably get bang for their buck," she said of the fad.

Inevitably, some are insulted by the Ts and accessories bearing Christ's name and image.

"A lot of people find it offensive and say you can't put Jesus on a shirt," Gross said.

One of those people is Los Angeles attorney Michael Allan, who grew up Catholic.

"I think these T-shirts are disrespectful," Allan said. "Mary and Jesus don't belong on T-shirts. There are other ways to show your devotion."

But other Jesus followers are pleased as punch with the new fashion trend, and are going along with it as much as the artsy Hollywood set is.

"The Christians like it, the hipsters like it," said Hoy. "We had no idea it was going to be this big."

The icon status of Jesus Christ in the fashion and pop culture worlds doesn’t necessarily equal a renewed interest in church, prayer and religion, however.

"I don't think there's much spiritual significance in the popularity of the Jesus junk," Gross said.

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