Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pope Francis Is an #Influencer

New, 1 comment

“Papal Athleisure” is all the rage.

Photo: Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

In 2017, influencers use their powers to get people to buy questionable wellness products and rake in profits. Pope Francis might not be into teatox, but he’s influential in athleisure.

His Holiness is famous for a modest lifestyle, one he demonstrates through his clothing: He’s ditched the red shoes typically worn by popes for ordinary black ones, he opts for a silver pectoral cross instead of a bejeweled gold one, and he prefers to wear simple white robes instead of grand, embellished ones. (According to the BBC, moments after he was elected, Pope Francis rejected the traditional red, fur-trimmed cape and scoffed “You put it on instead. Carnival time is over!”)

Now, according to Crux, a Denver-based Catholic publication, Pope Francis’s preference for low-key fashion is having a trickle-down effect, causing Vatican staff and clergy members worldwide to dress more casually. The publication refers to the style everyone is trying to mimic as Pope Francis’s “papal athleisure.”

“Maybe once we were a bit excessive, and now slowly...” one tailor who has worked for several popes told Crux. “It’s not as if before the clothes were more luxurious or pricey, maybe a bit more flashy and rich with details. Today this has changed a bit. Now with Pope Francis’s direction, people want things that are much lighter, simpler and more sober... and consequently less expensive.”

The tailor went on to lament that the robes his clients now prefer are simpler — and so they spend less — and that like Pope Francis, they now prefer simpler crosses made of metal and wood. He recalled a time when “a crease could not be ignored,” as compared to these days, when clergy request “Pope Francis-inspired cassocks, ready for the daily wear and tear.”

Now that the Pope is as an official #influencer — as in, not just affecting people’s religious behaviors, but the way they dress, too — just one question remains: Should we be on the lookout for #sponcon from the Catholic Church?