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Fashion celebrates Pride...or is it marketing tactics?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

31 Jul 2018

Fashion |OPINION

For those who may have missed the rainbow waves postered across cities around the globe, August is the month of Pride. The rainbow flag, as we all know, is a symbol to reflect the diversity of the LGBTO community, often taking an outing during LGBTQ rights marches and since adopted by brands and retailers who aim to synchronise with the ideals of inclusivity.

And perhaps capture the pink dollars, pounds and euros from a community with abundant spending means.

It used to be that the symbol of the rainbow was seen in backstreet bars, cafes and off the beaten track areas where queers could go to feel safe from discrimination and be amongst peers. Never before has the rainbow become a fashion trend.

From Oxford Street in London to the Leidsestraat in Amsterdam, retailers have wholeheartedly adopted the rainbow motif. At Levi's, an entire Pride collection is adorning its windows: rainbow socks, denim jackets and t-shirts with slogans "I am proud." H&M, too, launched a rainbow-heavy collection in 148 stores in the US alone, promising 10 percent of sales would be donated to the United Nations global campaign against homophobia. Even its logo above the entrance has been rainbow-ized.

“H&M believes in everybody’s right to love who they want,” Andreas Löwenstam, head of menswear design was quoted in the Evening Standard. “We hope people can use H&M’s Love For All collection to celebrate Pride and their belief in equal love.”

Retailers are rainbow-ready

In Amsterdam, where Gay pride has taken over the city centre this week, its main shopping district is full of retailers with rainbow coloured collections, deftly merchandised in windows, like United Nude's shoe store pop-up, with an array of rainbow plastic shoes. Who is the customer, I secretly wonder?

But despite all the retail goodwill, it feels like a trend fashion brands are jumping on board to maximise sales. Much like the festival hype, which begins in May, each year we are bombarded with outfits perfect for Coachella, those cut-off shorts and boho ensembles to dress us for a weekend of music and debauchery in the Californian desert. Although how many of us get to go?

While queer culture may be becoming more widely adopted, there is a long way to go for LGBT rights around the world. And not so far out of London, New York and Amsterdam there are plenty of human rights abuses that would make the rainbow flag fly at low mast.

Images by FashionUnited