Forever 21 Goes To Church: How Do You Feel?

Back in 2008, Radar ran a story revealing the owners of Forever 21 as bible-thumpers. They choose Christian designers to work with, said the article, and even print “John 3:16″ at the bottom of their bags.

As a non-believer, I’ll admit that I find the bible reference little irritating (although that’s never stopped me from shopping there). But apparently, Don and Jin Sook Chang are starting to let the Jesus-love seep even further in their stores. According to a post by Rachel Kane of WTForever21:

They’ve always had a penchant for crosses. A sizeable chunk of their accessory stock is crosses. Bedazzled, jazzled, rhinestone dipped and covered in colorful bling, but crosses none the less. Not a biggie. Madonna, anyone?  But on my most recent visit to the Glendale Galleria’s Forever 21 store and then again while browsing their online catalog, I noticed a disturbing trend in the graphic tees. Some were just hinting at a shadow of religion, which I’ve seen before from them, but NOW? Now there are items going Holy balls to the wall with tops that have what reads like  scripture on them.

And indeed, the next few photos she posts show images of t-shirts calling out for Jesus, begging you to pray, and in one particularly presumptuous example, claiming to have a message directly from God him(or her, if you prefer)self*:

I personally don’t think that Jesus (or any religious figure, for that matter) has a place in stores that mass-market products to, in theory, a wide range of believers and non-believers, and people of all different religious stripes. What about you?

*I know that these messages are available for the public’s viewing pleasure on billboards all across the country, and for the record, I also think those are presmuptuous. Besides, I’d be pissed if I were God and all these people kept putting words in my mouth.

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    • Karen

      Spencer Gifts has been selling t-shirts with devil horns and such for decades. Who cares? I could see shirts with enlightened buddhist philosophies on them, with no problem from anyone. Communist or anarchist sentiments, it’s all acceptable. Isn’t it all just, freedom?

      • Isabel

        Definitely. If I were a believer, I think I’d feel excited as a customer to be invigorating a brand that shared my beliefs, so I don’t think it’s wrong at all. You’re right, it’s an exercise of freedom, but I don’t think people would necessarily stop shopping there if they discovered there was a disparity between the store’s philosophy and their own, so I don’t think that the sales of the store necessarily reflect the beliefs of their shoppers.

        Since I’m not ‘a believer’, I personally would feel icky wearing their clothes, kind of the same feeling I get when missionaries interrupted my lunch to convert me. So I definitely won’t be shopping there anymore. But I don’t think it’s wrong! And since I assume that the majority of Americans do believe in God, I doubt it would offend many people and it’s a pretty smart marketing strategy. That’s about the extent of my opinion.

    • Melissa

      This isn’t the first time someone’s commercialized religion (Christmas, anyone?), but I think it’s ironic that these “bible-thumpers” are using other people’s faith to turn a profit.

    • Becky

      This is what God tells those who follow Him,
      Isaiah 48:17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to PROFIT, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

    • Abigail

      Personally, I think shirts like that are tacky. And I’m a Christian. I don’t have a problem with them buying it (how is it different than Spencer, like Karen said, or other stores selling Jewish or Islamic products), but I wouldn’t ever buy it.

    • Maris

      Forever 21 has had (or at least used to have) John 3:16 on their bags forever.

      “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    • Jon

      My nieces recently bought shirts that have phrases like “Porn Star” and “Sperm Dumpster” printed on them but God forbid they purchase something Biblically associated.

      • Karen

        Amen.

      • Chloe

        Your nieces are Meg Griffin?

      • Jon

        A “Family Guy” fan on The Gloss? No fucking way.

    • Deborah

      I can’t help but wonder how sweat shops fit into their ideology.

      • OG

        You took the words right out of my mouth. Or hands. Whatever.

      • MM

        I was going to say the same about stealing ideas from fashion designers. I don’t mind the shirt at all – obviously I wouldn’t wear it but you have to be pretty uptight to be offended by it being sold – but the company’s practices don’t seem to be all that Christian.

    • Celia

      I am a believer, and whoa do these make me uncomfortable.

      I just don’t think The Man Upstairs would really approve of His name on a cropped tank top. It’s a little skanky, y’know?