January 23, 2003
Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve
Tired of wearing designer clothes and lining the pockets of fashionistas? These days, clothing companies are banking on Jewish pride and charity as the impetus for their labels.
Jewcy and Jewish Jeans are both joining a growing clique of edgy Jewish enterprises, such as Heeb magazine and JDub Records that deliver secular Jewish culture in pop culture formats.
Jewish Jeans (www.jewishjeans.com) donates a portion of its sales to victims of suicide bombing attacks in Israel. It offers shirts embroidered with "Nice Jewish Boy" and "Single Jewish Girl," and political messages such as "Pursue Peace" and "Support Israel."
"Whether you want to make a statement about your social status or your political views, Jewish Jeans delivers powerful messages in a stylish and fun way," the Web site asserts.
The company was founded by Columbus, Ohio residents, Steven Verona, 34, a successful inventor, and Daniel Wolt, 36, owner of a home remodeling company who recently resigned his post as social director of the Young Jewish Community of Columbus to work on the project.
Verona said he became involved in Jewish Jeans in an effort to combat anti-Semitic sentiment and promote a positive Jewish image.
"Jewish Jeans allows you to make a statement of pride in your heritage ... proudly wear your Jewish Jeans clothing knowing that you helping to make the world a better place," the site promises.
Another label, Jewcy, is selling T-shirts, hats and underwear branded with the bold "Jewcy" logo, in which the "W" is actually the Hebrew letter shin.
"We did it purely to amuse ourselves, but it's touching a chord and that's gratifying," said theater producer Jenny Wiener, 34, who conceived of Jewcy with her husband and business partner, Jon Steingart, 35; Jason Saft, 25; and Saft's boss, Craig Karpel, 36.
Although they don't define themselves as actively religious, the Jewcy people are proud of their heritage and believe there are enough likeminded Jews out there to sustain a line of clothing, as well as what they plan to be regularly scheduled live events.
According to the Jewcy.com Web site, being Jewcy means being "pro-Manischewitz, pro-Jewfro, pro-Barneys Warehouse sale. It's knishes with a knasty attitude."