Pride month is officially here and more brands than ever before are being vocal about supporting LBGTQ communities. Companies can no longer afford to be silent about civil rights, be it the Black Lives Matter movement or transgender rights. While Pride month is traditionally a time of celebration and parades, rainbow-themed fashion and accessories have been receiving less attention this year when so much of Pride is centered around live events. With no gatherings to post content about, corporate sponsors have had to channel - and market - their resources elsewhere. Even the hashtag #pride has dropped by a colossal 80 percent for 50 large fashion brands tracked by Tribe Dynamics, reported the Business of Fashion.
Hundreds of brands launch Pride collections each year, those easily identifiable bright and sparkly capsule ranges to connect with LGBTQ audiences. Yet not many truly give back to the community. Last year the BBC questioned if the high street wasn’t profiting from pride, with companies proudly flying rainbow flags without being truly inclusive or transparent.
One of the first indicators of profit before people is noting the country of manufacturing. If the themed merchandise is made in a region that oppresses LGBTQ people, why support the brand by buying their products? Pinkwashing is a marketing strategy aimed at promoting products and services through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as progressive, modern and tolerant. But drinking coffee from a rainbow cup or withdrawing cash from a multi-coloured ATM doesn’t advance the cause.
The business of Pride
Some brands, however, are going beyond the transactional value of rainbow-wear and openly support LBGTQ charities and causes. The easiest and most visible way is companies offering a percentage of sales of their Pride products to causes. Wrangler, for example, is showing solidarity with a range rainbow tees, tanks, hoodies, caps and bumbags, with all net profits donated to the LGBT Foundation Manchester. Similarly, Levi’s will donate 100 percent of profits to OutRight Action International and Paris-based Ami is giving 100 percent of proceeds of its five piece Rainbow collection to GLAAD, a non-profit media advocacy organisation whose mission is to accelerate the acceptance of the LGBTQ community worldwide.
Pride has long been fashionable in the retail marketing calendar, but appealing to the pink pound must not be a case of being sold to the highest bidder (think parade sponsors) or confusing solidarity with the social justice agenda. It takes a lot more than an embroidered rainbow flag to elicit change.
Image courtesy Ami