CELEBRATING PRIDE’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY: RAINBOW MERCH, PRIDE FLAGS & BRAND GENEROSITY

Versace Pride 2024 collection

Versace’s Progress Pride Flag & Barocco print collection with 10% of the proceeds from item sales to benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation (Image credit: Versace)

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pride Month this June, some fashion brands are making bold, rainbow design statements by raising funds and actively contributing to the empowerment and in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride Month originated in 1999, when President Bill Clinton declared, through federal proclamation, that every June in America will be recognized as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month”. Pride Month was later expanded by President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden with the additions of other queer identities.

But, before we look at a few of the fashion companies who are participating, we thought we’d do a quick review of the gay pride flag, its meaning and its various iterations over the years.

FLAGS of the LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY

Rainbow flag 6 colors

Gay Pride Flag – 6 colors: The flag uses 6 iconic colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, which represent life, healing, sunshine, nature, harmony and spirit. (Image credit: CooperHewitt.org)

The original Gay Pride Flag was designed by artist Gilbert Baker at the request of Harvey Milk, San Francisco City Supervisor and first openly gay elected official in the history of California. The rainbow flag made its debut at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978.

Transgender Pride Flag

Transgender Pride Flag designed by Monica Helms  in 1999 (Image credit: Smithsonian.org)

Monica Helms designed the first Transgender Pride flag in 1999 as a symbol of trans diversity and rights. Helms, a trans activist who grew up in Arizona and served in the U.S. Navy, debuted the flag at a Pride parade in Phoenix in 2000. She used pink and blue stripes to represent colors that have traditionally been associated with girls and boys, with white for people who are intersex, transitioning, or who don’t have a defined gender.

 

Philly Pride Flag

The Philly Pride Flag (Image credit: WikiData.org)

In 2017, Philadelphia took a bold step toward LGBTQ representation with the introduction of the Philly Pride flag, their our own version of the popular six-colored-stripe rainbow Pride flag, adding black and brown to the top of the rainbow representing black and brown LGBTQIA+ members. The flag appeared on Nike and Converse sneakers in the second season finale of the FX show Pose.

 

Pride Progress Flag

The Progress Pride Flag designed by Monica Helms in 2017 – (Image credit: CooperHewitt.org)

Observing the ubiquitous six-striped rainbow flag, the Progress Pride flag elevates additional, intersectional identities with an overlaid chevron, striped in white, pink, blue, brown, and black.  The white, pink, and blue stripes reference the Transgender Pride Flag, designed by Monica Helms  and plays on the traditional gendering of the colors pink and blue with white representing those who operate outside of that cisgender binary. The brown and black are inspired by the Philadelphia Pride Flag introduced at Philadelphia Pride in 2017 to honor queer people of color.

 

Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag

Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag designed by Valentino Vecchietti in 2021 (Image credit: CopperHewitt.org)

Designed in 2021 by Valentino Vecchietti, the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride flag incorporates a field of yellow and a purple circle. The elements of the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Progress flag was designed in 2013 by Morgan Carpenter—to symbolize intersex inclusion. The yellow represents an alternative to blue and pink, often associated with the male/female gender binary. The circle symbolizes wholeness and expresses the need for autonomy and integrity.

Here are a few of the brands that have gone all in on their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, using the rainbow flag as inspiration:

CALVIN KLEIN

Calvin Klein’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Calvin Klein)

Calvin Klein’s This Is Love Pride campaign starring actor Cara Delevingne and actor and singer Jeremy Pope . The collection features rainbow-hued Calvin Klein logos on underwear and shirts. The brand also created two limited-edition shirts and has committed over $240,000 to NGOs, including its hero partners ILGA World and Transgender Law Center, dedicated to LGBTQIA+ equity and safety. ILGA  World is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

 

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: JPG)

Jean Paul Gaultier has reinvented its limited-edition Pride 2024 eau de toilette fragrance in its Classique and Le Male bust-shaped bottles. However this time it features an excerpt from the artwork of the late artist and activist Keith Haring, whose  provocative mural entitled Once Upon a Time is in the second floor men’s bathroom at “The Center ” (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center), in NYC.

ABERCROMBIE & FITCH

Abercrombie and Fitch’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit Abercrombie & Fitch)

Abercrombie & Fitch is continuing its partnership with The Trevor Project by donating $400,000, and through its 2024 Made With Pride collection. The Trevor Project is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1998, focused on suicide prevention among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. They offer a toll-free telephone number where confidential assistance is provided by trained counselors. To date, Abercrombie & Fitch has raised over $5 million for The Trevor Project.

CONVERSE

Converse’s Proud to Be collection for 2024 features Western-inspired apparel and shoes that recognize the trailblazing spirit of the queer community. (Photo Credit: Converse)

This year, Converse’s annual grants are supporting several initiatives that support the queer community, including It Gets Better Project, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ youths; the Ali Forney Center, which offers services to homeless LGBTQIA+ youths; and a number of other organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ youths community.

KATE SPADE NEW YORK

Kate Spade’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Kate Spade)

Kate Spade’s new Pride collection features rainbow hues on bags, bracelets, charms, bandanas and more. A portion of net sales from the collection will benefit the brand’s longtime partner The Trevor Project.

LEVI’S

Levi’s Pride 2024 collection. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

The Levi brand’s new collection got its inspiration from the queer community’s Rainbow Rodeos culture that originated in Reno, Nevada in 1976 by Phil Ragsdale. As a backlash to Ronald Reagan’s rigid heterosexual cowboy mythology and the formation of The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) in 1985, a counter-hegemonic space opened up that met the Reagan-era cowboy revival on a queer frontier. This Pride month, Levis will donate $100,000 to Outright International, an organization dedicated toward advancing human rights for queer people around the world.

MACY’S

Macy’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Macy’s)

Macy’s joins its fellow Macy’s Inc. nameplates, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, in putting queer-owned brands in the spotlight, by sharing brand stories via digital activations and by donating more than $6.2 million to The Trevor Project.

KOHL’S

Kohl’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Kohl’s)

Kohl’s is celebrating Pride month with a message aligned with living life authentically: “Be bright, be proud, be you.” The retailer is also a donor to The Trevor Project to the tune of $100,000.

UGG

Ugg’s Pride 2024 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Ugg)

Ugg partnered with comedian and author Alok Vaid-Menon to co-create the new URSeen collection for Pride 2024. Ugg has donated $200,000 across It Gets Better, Pacific Pride Foundation, and PFLAG National, to further the message of inclusion and acceptance. Additionally, Ugg held its first-ever pride float on June 9 at the LA Pride Parade.

 

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Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.