By now you’ve probably heard the news: The “faithful” fashion industry is coming down.
And not just because the faith-based clothing industry has exploded in recent years, but because the industry is losing the faith and faithfulness of consumers.
As the New York Times reports, a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that about one-quarter of U.S. adults have stopped wearing clothing that includes religious symbols.
This is not a new phenomenon: In 2008, for instance, Pew found that about half of Americans had stopped wearing a t-shirt that said, “I love Jesus.”
This is a problem, according to the Pew study: It’s not just that people are choosing to go non-religious, it’s that they’re choosing not to care about religion at all.
The study found that when asked about their most significant religious identity, most people said their most important religious identity was a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist.
The majority of people said they did not identify with any religious group.
That makes sense: If you’re going to believe in God, you’re also going to care deeply about who you’re associated with.
But, of course, there are still many people who are not religious and are not comfortable wearing the religious symbols they find appealing.
There’s no easy answer to the question of why people choose to wear religious apparel in the first place, but it’s important to understand the underlying issues.
The Rise of the “Faithful” Clothing Industry According to Pew, there has been a rapid rise in the number of Americans who say they wear religious clothing.
Between 2009 and 2012, the number jumped from 11 percent to 27 percent.
As you might expect, this trend was strongest among the younger generations.
Pew’s report found that those under the age of 30 are much more likely than those in their forties and fifties to be wearing religious clothing, but the same trend appears in those over the age.
The number of non-Christian religious clothing retailers jumped from 9.4 percent in 2009 to 11.5 percent in 2012, Pew noted.
As for faith, Pew notes that in 2012 and 2013, only 3.6 percent of Americans identified as being “spiritual.”
This includes those who have “faith-based practices” like meditation and spiritual practice.
As Pew points out, these are not exactly the same as “faith,” which has been defined by the Supreme Court as “a belief in or devotion to a deity or a spiritual agency, including a religious belief.”
While it may seem that the secularists are the ones who are losing faith, the truth is that they’ve been losing it for a while.
“While religious people are increasingly becoming more secular, they are not losing faith in themselves as much as the secularist movement is losing it,” the Pew report noted.
And that’s precisely what’s happening with faith-themed clothing, which has exploded.
In 2009, only 1.5 million people identified as “spiritually inclined.”
By 2014, that number had ballooned to 6.5 billion.
While the growth in faith-related clothing has been impressive, it doesn’t mean it’s a new trend.
In 2008 alone, the Faith in America Campaign, a nonprofit organization, reported that “the growth of faith-inspired clothing has coincided with the increase in religiousness and non-denominationalness in American life.”
In the past few years, many of these brands have been struggling to survive in the current marketplace.
“In the face of increasing competition from secular brands, faith-focused brands are increasingly forced to cut costs or scale back,” the Faith Foundation’s Dr. Elizabeth A. Tisdale said in a statement.
That means the non-faith-affiliated clothing that has become increasingly popular is having a harder time staying afloat.
“For many of them, it means they have to lower the quality and size of their products,” Tisdal said.
In fact, a recent report by Consumer Reports found that “most religiously themed apparel is not really suitable for use as clothing.”
The report found the majority of clothing brands that surveyed had either reduced the number or quality of their religious clothing and products.
And the brands that did make changes included brands like Burberry, Ralph Lauren, and the Gap, which are all experiencing declining sales.
And some of those brands are doing a better job of cutting costs than others.
For example, Gap has been reducing its size by more than 20 percent.
That’s great news for faith-conscious shoppers, but not so great for faith apparel companies.
The Pew report notes that this has been especially true for the religious clothing companies that have seen their revenue declines.
The religious clothing industry is experiencing declining growth in 2016, and that’s largely due to the declining number of faith apparel retailers.
In 2012, there were nearly 4,400 faith apparel stores, according the Pew research.
By 2016, that figure had dropped to