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ICONography: The St. Christopher Medal

Posted in Design, History, Motorcycle by Chris | May 14th, 2009 | 13 Responses |


Vito recently made a post about Icon’s obsession to establish itself as a counter-culture, alternative-apparel sort of brand. They want to be hip. They market helmets straight to the mecha-crazed anime generation. Their product descriptions are witty and self-deprecating. They believe that sport and cruiser clans can coexist. Truly, a progressive motoring institution.

What’s interesting is that this progressive institution adds on a little bit more protection to their jackets than just shoulder pads, denim, and bomb-proof zippers.

They add–well, what would you call it?

I’ve been riding motorcycles for about two years. Started out with a GSXR 600 and an Icon Hooligan Jacket that reminded me of this Demetri Martin bit about guys in leather jackets are cool, but if you see a dude in a leather vest, that’s very uncool. So, you know what that means? It’s the sleeves, the leather sleeves that are cool. And this jacket is denim–with leather sleeves. And that makes me cool, my friend.

Anyway, it was only a month ago that I noticed something odd on the inside of my left-vest pocket. To my Protestant surprise – it was a St. Christopher medallion. Probably the most famous medallion face short of Jesus and Mary, St. Christopher has been featured in every bad-gangster-turned-philanthropist movie for years as the patron saint of travels. Legend has it, the old guy carried the baby Jesus over a stream, and he nearly buckled under the weight of carrying a child with the “whole world on his shoulders”.

I checked a couple of places and found an article on motorcycledaily.com which documented their own discovery of this little gem and their search for answers. They ended up giving Phil Davy, “Icon’s opinionated and straight shooting brand manager a call,” and he told them, when pressed, that “it really was not meant as a religious statement as it was a much-needed good luck charm for all faiths, or no faith. If you don’t like it do one of two things: cut the medallion out or just don’t buy the garment. For the complainers out there, go complain to your Mom.”

But this still begs the question. Is it wise to include an object of faith in apparel? It’s not just the nonreligious you could offend, but those to whom St. Christopher means a great deal – the guys who don’t have to look up what he’s the patron saint of on Wikipedia before writing an article.

Icon has included a St. Christopher medal in all of their jackets for the past four years, but you wouldn’t know it unless you happened to reach way down in that pocket and find it. Or see this article.

So what do you guys think? Icon says it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious, just a good luck charm, but obviously someone in the corporate hierarchy thinks it’s doing some good. Would you be offended to find such an item sewn into your liner, or would you be encouraged by the thought that Icon is looking out for your body and your soul?


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13 Responses

  1. Butch Deadlift says:

    I’m not a religious fellow — I’m Canadian, I don’t think many of us are all that religious, and Catholic, which means we go to church twice a year and feel guilty about it the rest of the time — but I have a tiny St. Christopher medallion in my car. St. Chris, for those of us on a first-name basis with him, is (or was) the patron saint of travellers, and in generations past, saying a prayer to him before setting out was supposed to provide a safe journey.

    I can’t prove it, because of my limited internet access, but I’m told that St. Christopher has actually been removed as a canon saint by the Catholic Church. So if that’s true, technically there’s nothing religious about these medallions anymore, they really are nothing more than good-luck charms.

  2. Vito Rispo says:

    Wow, that’s interesting. As an atheist, I’m swayed by evidence, so if I thought Icon had the best gear, I’d wear them no matter what. But it’s definitely interesting to know that, despite what they say, someone major at Icon is probably fairly religious. Even if each medallion only cost a few cents to have made, shipped, and sewn into the garment… thats a few cents of possible profit.

  3. Shelby says:

    I noticed this pocket within a pocket just after my crash. I was cleaning up my jacket and cleaning out the pockets when I noticed the small patch on the liner of my left breast inside pocket. When I pulled out the medal I suddenly felt as though I could give credit to a watchfull-eye. I have never really been a religious person or believed in gardian angels but I took quite a spill and walked away with only a broken thumb so call it what you will but I will keep that medal closeto my heart at all times.

  4. NoVoice says:

    I think it’s great. I’m not religious, at all, but good for Icon for showing some character. If I didn’t like it I would cut it out, but it’s just a little easter egg (not the religious easter egg, lol) that you find later on when you feel a bump on your left tit. It’s better than finding something else because of the lump on your left tit. And great for Phil Davey sticking to it. People may not believe, but here’s the thing…you don’t have to. Cheers.

  5. Simon says:

    First – to the previous post about finding it after a crash – surely if it worked you wouldn’t have had the crash in the first place? I find it amusing to thank and attribute this religious charm for reducing the damage, and avoiding the entire issue of the crash.

    Anyway… as an atheist I am VERY offended by this (reminds me of the recent US Military Trijicon ACOG scopes found to be issued in the Middle East with biblical references on them… you can imagine how wll that went down). I don’t care how good the gear is – if someone is going to ship religious items with it, I won’t buy them

    To Icon’s manager – fair enough, but at least have the decency to warn those who might be offended, those handful of atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Shintoist, Buddist, and other non-Christians out there, so they can make an informed choice, instead of sneaking it in there.

  6. Milton says:

    I just bought an ICON Contra jacket and I was looking in my left breast pocket to see the stash pocket and I came upon the little charm. I went in search of some answers on the internet and found this article. I’m not a religious person, and I actually have a disdain for Christianity… but I actually feel a tad safer knowing that the charm is there. Call me a hypocrite, but I’m keeping it there.

    For the people who are offended… quit being so butt hurt, just cut it off.

  7. Carl says:

    I found mine today. I don’t walk around with charms around my neck; having said that, there’s no way on earth I’m going to cut it out of there! I hedge my bet every time I put on a helmet (which is every time I ride).

    Good on Icon for their easter egg and willingness to stand up for it. I’ll buy Icon next time, possibly for that reason.

  8. MikeM says:

    I found this charm in the jacket pocket of my timax2. Since I bought the jacket second hand in pristine condition for about 40% off retail, I considered the possibility that the original owner was superstitious and sewed it in himself. My curiosity led me here. I’m not religious myself, AT ALL, but unlike Simon above I don’t consider myself an Atheist. I’ve always been curious about people classifying themselves by not doing something. Consider the word..a(lacking or devoid of) theist(belief in deity). I am, however fascinated by religious culture and will answer Butch Deadlifts query by stating that St. Christopher to this day remains venerated as a saint.
    On the topic of purchasing/not purchasing icon jackets bc they have this….well its presence as a concealed charm almost makes that moot. I myself consider the timax 2 as the most protective piece of equipment i’ve ever put on my back and would not deny myself this when i could just cut it out. I wouldn’t go through the trouble of seamripping a giant embroidered Jesus logo advertised on the back of the jacket, but hey thats not what we’re talking about here. I myself felt the charm gave the jacket some character, and bc it’s weight is negligible, its staying in there.

  9. Laura says:

    I love that the medalion is tucked away. I am not a Catholic (my husband is), and not religious in an organized sort of fashion, but having the little medalion tucked away in my vest suits me. As one fella put it, every time we strap on a helmet and go out in the world, we’re tempting fate at every turn. Be you the best rider on the planet, there is not accounting for that stray piece of gravel or that inattentive driver. If St. Christopher can help keep me on one piece, that’s wonderful.

    Frankly, if it would ease my way in this life, I’d dance in the street and invoke the powers of voodoo!

    And, for those folks who find the little, very well hidden medalion not to their taste, don’t buy Icon’s products. The very name Icon, may give the buyer a clue; don’t ya think! Long before icon meant a little symbol on your computer desktop… it was a religous reference.

    So, lets us not erase history, religious or secular, as was done in “1984,” but embrace it and be glad we’re here despite it all.

  10. Lina says:

    I’m not catholic, but I’m a christian…and was at one point in time a proof & logic only agnostic. I can definitely see how it could offend people. I will agree, it probably should have been mentioned…but at the same time If you don’t like it then just remove it. I had a Dainese jacket & absolutely loved it…until I found out that its logo was a devil’s head. I contemplated on removing the logo or just selling it & getting an Icon Hella jacket. After reading a review article & learning about the hidden St. Christopher medallion, I was intrigued. The Dainese was a half size too small for me anyways. I will be getting the Icon and upgrading the armor.

  11. Kelly J says:

    I love my Icon jackets and didn’t find the medallion(s) until the third jacket. I immediately checked the first two and found medallions in them as well. I was blown away and it made me wonder as I was in an accident a couple years ago on my Triumph and walked away without a scratch when it very easily could have been ugly. I’m not superstitious/religious but hey, it can’t hurt to leave them in there…

  12. Ron says:

    I’ve been looking to buy one of these “good luck charms”…..I was the leader of our local sport bike group until 10 months ago. I got into a major motorcycle crash. Broke my clavicle mid shaft, busted my left leg tib and fib in 8 places and had to have my right leg amputated below my knee. I had on all the appropiate motorcycle gear. But my moto jacket was not an Icon. So now I’m looking to buy the charm to finish out my long life as an amputee.

  13. michael says:

    I found my medal today by accident.never heard of them doing this! I think its very cool! I love icon! They’ve got the best group of riders!