What a long, strange trip it's been.

The must-have brand True Religion (NASDAQ:TRLG) has been testing the faith of its followers lately, with its stock vibrating between $11 and $18 over the past six months. As of midday Wednesday, shares were down a nasty 14%, in large part because of the apostasy of an analyst who downgraded the shares to a "hold" and lowered the price target.

Making the fuss a bit more interesting, True Religion spiked up in early trading yesterday, when the company raised guidance for the third quarter above both its prior forecast and the mean Wall Street "consensaguess." Despite initial enthusiasm at the announcement, the stock trailed off during the day and posted only a modest gain.

So why was there such an apparently oversized reaction to one analyst's report? Well, first of all, it doesn't look as though Wednesday is shaping up as a great day for those who target mall rats for their income. Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO), Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN), Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF), and other retailing kith and kin were all having a bad day as of this writing. You don't have to think too long to figure out why: Analysts and institutional investors have been twitchy about the retail market for some time now, and renewed worries about the strength of consumer pocketbooks isn't helping.

To me, it makes sense that True Religion should be a bit more volatile than these other names. First, the stock has had quite a run over the past 12 months from where it began in the land of the bulletin board stocks. If you bought this stock at $5 and started hearing rumblings that consumers might sour on $300 jeans, I can see why selling at $15 might seem reasonable.

Second, we're talking about a company that sells $300 jeans! I get the fact that True Religion is setting itself as an aspirational brand for those who aren't Cameron Diaz or George Clooney but wish they were. But just because I get it, that doesn't mean I think it's automatically going to work. Trying to establish an aspirational brand when the retail boom is already a bit long in the tooth is a tough gig. And if consumers turn away from high-end denim, the company has almost nothing to fall back on right now.

My buddy Seth Jayson has already taken a long look at the weird history of this company, and I won't add to that here. Instead, I'll leave off this discussion with the following -- for every Coach (NYSE:COH), there's a Donna Karan; for every Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), there's an Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL). And let's not even get into Members Only jackets. I'm not denying the current popularity of True Religion's jeans, but investors might want to keep a careful eye on the malls to make sure they're not buying into a golden idol here.

For more fashions for the faithful:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).