Marketing the Rainbow
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Fashion is the ultimate podium to make Pride statements: many brands have released a special capsule for either Pride month or a Pride festival - luckily often enough in support of an LGBT charity. Some of the brands started as early as 2012 and produced ever increasing collections since, others only started recently.
In 2021 this upscale brand gave us Pride For All Mankind: a collaboration with the It Gets Better project. In some markets this was a different charity, for instance in Brazil there was a partnership with Casa Florescer, a pioneering center for transgender women.
The range was limited to 2 white unisex t-shirts with colorful prints which were priced at €79.95. The first option says Pride For All Mankind, referencing the brand
name and the second has the words Life, Healing, Sunlight, Nature, Harmony, Spirit - the meaning of the 6 stripes on the rainbow flag.
The brand also changed the logo on their website, even beyond Pride Month.
Although the signature colors of Paul Smith look very much like our rainbow, he has only rarely offered a special Pride collection.
In 2017, Paul Smith temporarily converted its famous pink Melrose Avenue exterior into a rainbow as part of an international Pride project in collaboration with Instagram. People as diverse as Hillary Kerr, actor Victoria Justice and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti posed in front of the mural, garnering more than 323,000 combined likes and views. It was the first time the #pinkwall (which boasts more than 60,000 Instagram mentions) had been altered since the store’s 2005 opening. Mirroring Instagram’s global reach, the rainbow wall at Paul Smith Los Angeles was one of five installed in cities around the world: Nashville, Cleveland, London and Madrid.
Unfortunately, the huge design had seven colors: green was included. This is not the LGBT rainbow, and since there was no charity connected to the project, this is more self-promotion than anything else, and I consider this pinkwashing!
Although Hilfiger is a 36-year old corporation with a $7 billion turnover, they have only done a limited amount of Marketing the Rainbow. Starting in 2018, Hilfiger released a gender-neutral capsule supporting The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, continuing this trend in subsequent years.
2019 2020 2021
Express is a "fashion-forward apparel brand whose purpose is to create confidence and inspire self-expression. At Express, we believe that everyone should dream big and dress accordingly."
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio with a design studio in New York City and stores across the USA.
Like many fashion brands, Express launched a Pride collection for the occasion of the annual Pride Month (June). They were quite late to the game though, with their first collection seeing the light in 2019: "Love Unites". For this project, they partnered with Out Magazine and GLAAD. The Love Unites collection consisted of 35 all gender pieces "celebrating acceptance and unity". For every Love Unites item purchased, Express donated 25% of the net income to GLAAD to accelerate acceptance for the LGBT+ community. In the clip you see the editors of Out Magazine, Phillip Picardi, Raquel Willis and Coco Romack, who work every day "to inspire and uplift the voices of the LGBTQ+ community".
In 2020, Express established the Dream Big Project — an ongoing fundraising initiative created to champion organizations that stand for love, equality and unity and empower people to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. Their project supports The Feeding America network, the NAACP and GLAAD.