As 2020 nears the halfway mark and we reflect on a six-month span that has given us Australian bushfires, an ongoing pandemic, and global protests sparking societal upheaval, it's almost trite to remember that June is the month for us to commemorate Pride.
June is now devoted to what was, once upon a time, just a day at New York's Stonewall Inn in 1969, whereby queer people (notably from black and brown and trans communities) defied expectations and resisted arrest during a raid facilitated by the NYPD. The ensuing riots (along with other, less-reported campaigning prior to and following the Stonewall event) became a foundational cornerstone for the changes to the civil liberties experienced by those in the LGBTQ+ community today.
Sadly, it’s easy for a collective cultural amnesia to supplant the riotous backstory of the Pride movement amid its corporatization; all the banner-waving from banks, fast food chains, tech corporations, and, yes, fashion brands.
Case in point: An email I received from [redacted] PR a few weeks ago contained images of a Rainbow Breton top with the subject: “Hi ! Rainbow Shirts for Pride?” When I politely enquired about how the $60 shirt will be benefitting or contributing to the LGBTQ+ community, they replied with “they're not unfortunately.”
One of the original founders of Pride, Ellen Broidy, crystallized this commodification of social justice in a comment to BBC Today, saying: "[Pride is] much more powerful without the floats and without Citibank and American Airlines. Yes, it's a sign of progress but in a distinctly capitalist market.”
Capitalist agendas aside, it's probably worth remembering that while "globally recognized brand" plus "rainbow graphic" might feel like the exploitation of an oppressed identity, the worldwide exposure of well-known companies aligning with LGBTQ causes has a trickle-down effect to normalize and promote tolerance, acceptance, and changing of societal attitudes. But it does not excuse or justify those who manipulate the real-life struggle of millions around the world to put money in their own pockets or nurture a brand image.
So how do we navigate this distinctly capitalist market? With knowledge.
Here, we look at some of the more worthwhile Pride collections with information on exactly where your dollar is going and what they will do with it. Corporate transparency is one of our favorite trends for SS20.
Who: Calvin Klein
What are they doing?: In 2020, Calvin Klein has donated over $100,000 USD to LGBTQ non-profit organizations, including the onePULSE Foundation, to which Calvin Klein's parent company, PVH has made a $1 million grant through the PVH Foundation.
Notes on the collection: Your regular easy-to-wear Calvin Klein underwear, basic, and denim staples with a Pride flag trim – and jockstraps !
Where to buy: Calvin Klein
What are they doing?: 100 percent of net proceeds from Levi’s Pride 2020 collection will go to OutRight Action International.
Notes on the collection: Are Levi's 501 denim chaps too on the nose? Who's to say, the reactions on Twitter were divisive to say the least. However, Britney Spears wore them in a 2003 remix of "Overprotected," so they are, ostensibly, a part of LGBTQ canon.
Where to buy: Levi's
What are they doing?: 100 percent of the proceeds of all worldwide sales will be donated to GLAAD.
Notes on the collection: Well, if you wanted something very low key, perhaps even barely distinguishable from the regular product, the Ami Rainbow Caspule might do it for you.
Where to buy: AMI
What are they doing?: This year, Nike has contributed more than $500,000 to 29 organizations serving the LGBTQIA+ community. This includes 20 organizations each receiving $25,000 grants administered by the Charities Aid Foundation of America, some of whom also received grants last year as part of Nike's effort to promote a continuous allyship to LGBTQ+ organizations.
Nike will also award grants to organizations serving the LGBTQIA+ community in countries around the world including Nijiiro Diversity (Japan’s first non-profit organization to take on issues of LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace) and ReBit, a non-profit organization in Tokyo that aims to create a society in which all LGBT children can become adults as they are.
Notes on the collection: The first ever Air Force 1 to be included in the BeTrue collection features iridescent details on the swoosh and a subtle Pride flag on the heel.
Where to buy: Nike
Who: Ralph Lauren
What are they doing?: 100 percent of the purchase price from the sale of each Pride polo shirt for adults, children and dogs, and 25 percent of the purchase price from the sale of each graphic tee, tank top, sweatshirt, flag sweater, fanny pack, baseball cap, water bottle and socks will be donated to Stonewall Community Foundation benefitting an international network of LGBTQ+ organizations.
Additionally, Ralph Lauren Fragrances is making a supplemental donation to the Stonewall Community Foundation.
Notes on the collection: For this collection, the American powerhouse has amended its classic pieces with a Pride flag rainbow colorway found on the brand's emblematic logo and a colorful trim on the collar of the polo shirt.
Where to buy: Ralph Lauren
If these pride collections aren’t your vibe (maybe you’re not into denim chaps) there are various other ways to share your support for pride this month, namely by empowering the black queer community directly via donations to organizations such as GLITS or For The Gworls.