EQUALITY: HOW THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SUPPORTING THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY & WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Looks from Pink by Victoria’s Secret Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Pink by Victoria’s Secret)

As we process the overturning of Roe v Wade and what it means for women’s rights, we know one thing, the fashion industry will not take this lying down. There are many organizations mobilizing in defense of women’s equality, one of the newest is Don’t Ban Equality. The list of companies that support women’s reproductive rights is growing and you can bet that the impact of this decision will have have far-reaching consequences, both on and off the runway.

And, as we near the end of Pride Month, we’d like to dedicate this blog to women’s and gender equality. This year, the fashion community has stepped up and given back to the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month, which commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City where spontaneous demonstrations by the gay community in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, was a tipping point in the Gay Liberation Movement. The community originally observed the Stonewall Riots for a day at the end of June, but it has since evolved into a month-long tribute.

Over the last two years, due to Covid-19, the parades and parties celebrating Pride Month were cancelled, but this year, the month-long festivities were in full swing. Fashion brands also did their part in supporting the LGBTQ+ community with their “Pride-themed” collaborations and merchandise.

H&M’s video titled My Chosen Family Pride Month 2022 at H&M. Video Courtesy of H&M

Fashion brands working with the LGBTQ+ community isn’t new: H&M has been a longtime collaborator with LGBTQIA+ actors and activists, and their “My chosen family” initiative donated $100,000 this year to the UN Free & Equal campaign, a global fight for equality led by United Nations Human Rights.

Still, LGBTQ+ leaders have accused brands of pushing “pinkwashed” merchandise—basically using Pride Month as a marketing tool and profiting off the LGBTQ+ community without offering anything back. This is particularly distasteful after two years that’ve hit the community especially hard, financially-speaking.

The Rainbow Flag. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In prior Pride months, companies released everything from sneakers to that notorious mouthwash with Pride-themed packaging and not much else, not a single donation to support the community. Is an identifiable, color palette enough to persuade the LGBTQ community and supporters, to spend their hard-earned money after two long years of pandemic fatigue, inflation, and record-breaking gas prices?

According to YouGov, a quarter of Americans say that they are more likely to shop from LGBTQ+ friendly brands, and over 80% are likely to try new products from brands who actively support LGBTQ+ communities as opposed to ones that don’t. Authenticity is the key, although retailers have taken a financial hit the past few years due to the global pandemic, we’re seeing more companies putting their money where their mouth is and donating to worthy causes.

So here are a few of the Pride Month collaborations, from brands that are using their platform to support the LGBTQ+ community.

CHER X VERSACE

Cher and fashion house Versace are teaming up to celebrate Pride Month. (Photo Credit: Versace)

The music legend Cher and luxury Italian fashion house Versace have teamed up to create “Chersace,” a limited-edition capsule collection with all proceeds benefiting Gender Spectrum, a charity that works with LGBTQ children and youth.

The “Chersace” collection includes T-shirts, socks and a baseball cap designed with Versace’s iconic Medusa motif and the Versace logo reimagined to read “Chersace.” A portion of all the proceeds will benefit Gender Spectrum, a nonprofit organization chosen by both Donatella Versace and Cher for their advocate work supporting LGBTQ community, especially youths and families.

CONVERSE

Sneakers from Converse’s 2-22 Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Converse)

Converse’s Pride 2022 Collection puts a twist on the iconic Chuck Taylors, as each shoe from the collection is united by a vibrant patchwork representing diversity, belonging and unity. Alongside the Pride collection, Converse released a digital campaign, “Found Family,” which presents stories from the brand’s LGBTQ+ community. Converse also gives annual grants to seven organization partners that work to create safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

COACH

Coach’s Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Coach)

Coach didn’t just slap a rainbow on some purses, the fashion house has been a longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ causes. The brand releases annual Pride collections, partners with nonprofits and donates to community funds around the world through the Coach Foundation.

This year, the Coach Foundation’s “Go All Out For Pride” campaign will make donations to the brand’s longstanding LGBTQ+ partners, including the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Point Foundation and CenterLink to support their work connecting young LGBTQ+ folks with supportive communities. Coach’s Pride collection includes the labels iconic canvas bags, sneakers, and slides – all with the brands classic logo remixed with pride flag-inspired colors.

LEVI’S

A look from Levi’s Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

Sure, there are a number of brands brandishing gender-neutral fashion lines this summer, but the Levi’s Pride collection celebrates the spectrum of identities in the LGBTQ+ community. Levi’s latest line of tees, denim and accessories are designed to be worn by anyone, but feature pronouns across the pieces as a call to respect everyone’s lived experiences.

The denim company says that they will donate $100,000 to OutRight Action International, a nonprofit working year-round to defend and advance human rights for LGBTQ+ people around the globe. For this year’s collection, the brand also photographed the fashion line on five social justice advocates from within the LGBTQ+ community.

RALPH LAUREN

Ralph Lauren’s pride collection. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

For over 30+ years, Ralph Lauren has committed to the LGBTQ+ community. The fashion houses recent Pride campaign explores the complex and intersectional history of Pride. In the video, the former editor in chief of Out magazine, Phillip Picardi interviewed luminaries like Ariel Nicholson, Keith Boykin and Staceyann Chin as they provided insight on the community, the history of Pride and the New American Dream.

In addition, Ralph Lauren will merchandise a rainbow assortment of merchandise throughout the month, including rainbow cashmere sweaters, Polo shirts and canvas sneakers. The company has also partnered with the Stonewall Community Foundation once more, providing a donation to support the LGBTQ community.

VINYARD VINES

Looks from Vinyard Vines’ Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Vineyard Vines)

Perfect for this month’s beach life, and more, Vineyard Vines’s 2022 Pride Collection is here for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate and toast to the good life. A portion of all proceeds from their Pride collection will be donated to GLSEN, a non-profit whose mission is to ensure that every school-aged youth is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

UGG

Ugg’s Rainbow Sandals. (Photo Credit: Ugg)

This year Ugg has collaborated with The Trevor Project for its “Feel Heard” campaign, starring advocate and writer Alok, model Chloe Vero, yoga teacher and artist Isa’ah, science teacher and model Sarina Moralez and vintage collectors Robert and Orren. Ugg has also donated $125,000 to the nonprofit organization.

For their Pride 2022 Collection, Ugg featured rainbow Pride-inspired detailing on its signature slides as well as apparel, including a T-shirt, hoodie, socks and more.

PUMA

Cara Delevingne launches pride collection with Puma. (Photo Credit: Puma)

Puma has teamed up with model and actress Cara Delevingne and illustrator Carra Sykes, to create a collection called “Together Forever,” which encourages wearers to raise their voices and celebrate their strength. The collaboration includes T-shirts, hoodies, shorts, a patterned bralette, and matching leggings, all of which feature vibrant logos and graphics.

Puma has also pledged to donate 20 percent of the proceeds from the collection, with a minimum of $250,000, to GLAAD.

KATE SPADE NEW YORK

Items from Kate Spade’s Pride Collection. (Photo Credit: Kate Spade)

Kate Spade New York is celebrating Pride Month with their latest campaign, “Celebrate with Pride”. The fashion and accessories brand also announced a year-long partnership with The Trevor Project for the third year. As part of their partnership together, Kate Spade has pledged to donate $150,000 to the organization.

Additionally, the company will also release a series of videos on its website and social media channels, inviting members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their stories.

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Christian Cowan for Saks’ “Show Your Pride” campaign. (Photo Credit: Saks)

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue launched their Pride campaign called “Show Your Pride,” which celebrated notables from the LGBTQ+ community and their stories. Additionally, the retailer is continuing its support for the community by partnering with the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative (the official charitable giving organization of the historic landmark site of the 1969 riots) for the fourth consecutive year, with a cumulative donation of $245,000.

Throughout June, Saks Fifth Avenue will be featuring names like singer and drag performer Adore Delano, designer Christian Cowan, actress Dominique Jackson and comedians Jes Tom and Sam Jay on social media, the Saks website, and its editorial hub, The Edit. On its TikTok channel, influencer Emira D’Spain will host a “get ready with me” style video, while Jackson will be featured in a Reels video on Instagram.

Additionally, the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship windows in New York City will be transformed to create a deconstructed Pride flag.

NORDSTROM

Nordstrom’s Pride 2022 Campaign. (Photo Credit: Nordstrom)

Throughout Pride Month, the luxury department store will highlight labels that are launching initiatives in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The brands include BP., who released a Be Proud collection, Bombas, Converse, Dr. Martens, Happy Socks, Vans, The Phluid Project and Toms.

The retailer’s Pride Month initiatives will also include celebrating and supporting their LGBTQ+ employees and corporate donations to and partnerships with nonprofit organizations who work to support the LGBTQ+ community. Nordstrom will donate $200,000 to The Hetrick-Martin Institute, $100,000 to Trans Lifeline and $135,000 to Human Rights Campaign, among other charity programs.

CAROLINA HERRERA

A closer look at Carolina Herrera’s jewelry capsule celebrating Pride. (Photo Credit: Carolina Herrera)

The luxury house Carolina Herrera launched an exclusive jewelry capsule inspired by the rainbow colors of the official Pride flag, featuring a crystal necklace and earrings. Carolina Herrera will be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the sales of the collection to Callen-Lorde, a community health center providing healthcare and other related services for New York’s LGBTQ+ communities.

According to Don’t Ban Equality, “77% of consumers consider reproductive health care (i.e., access to contraception and abortion) an important issue; 91% of Gen Z and 86% of Millennials say it is important“. Who knew that we would still be fighting for women’s rights in today’s day and age?

So, tell us, how important it is for fashion brands to include equality in their brand identity?

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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.