Way back in the mists of time, sometime in the mid-Nineties, someone coined the term “The Pink Pound” to describe the purchasing power of the UK’s gay community. As brands cynically tried to plunder this estimated £6bn market, we got wise – some wondered whether the tsunami of gay financial products, professional services firms, “gay vague” advertising and blatantly homoerotic fashion campaigns were holding back equality, whilst most demanded more integrity, or at least an authentic synergy with the community. It’s also worth mentioning that, during this time, lesbians were mostly ignored, unless they were of the lusty, lipstick, photogenic variety, and Trans people didn’t actually exist in the minds of media agencies, unless it was as the butt of a joke.
Fast-forward twenty years and the landscape may have shifted somewhat, especially in terms of equality and gender politics. Many global brands now accept that equality is more about championing diversity and celebrating difference than token gestures, or a one-size-fits-all approach.
If nothing came between Brooke Shields and her Calvin Klein jeans, then even less comes between gay men and their Levi’s. Since the Fifties, Levi 501’s have remained the foundation of every queen-of-a-certain-age’s butch drag, shrunk-to-fit with their secret button-fly code. It’s no surprise then that Levi Strauss is a long-time supporter of LGBT equality, and San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Foundation. For this year’s Pride season, Levi’s have released a capsule gender-neutral range of T-shirts, cut-off denim shorts and a trucker jacket, featuring Rainbow Flag embroidery and Milk’s famous “We will never be silent” quote. With prices from £15, the Levi’s x Harvey Milk Foundation Pride Collection is available from Levi’s stores and online.
Some Pride cash-ins are less obvious. Take the Adidas Originals Pride Pack, which splashes rainbow colours across its sportswear and the Superstar and Stan Smith shoes. Okay, so on one side you have Jeremy Scott’s bondage harness track jacket, but at the same time the Adidas brand has greater associations with hip-hop and serious sports events, such as Team GB’s Olympics kit. A portion of the cost goes to charity, so there’s that, but we’re not in love with the product or the rationale.
Nike-owned Converse has a slightly more successful range, although the woven Chuck’s probably aren’t suitable for our notoriously inclement “British Summertime” (pictured above).
The only thing we possibly love more than dressing up for Pride parades is dressing up and getting drunk at Pride parades, so thank Kylie that Absolut is on hand with some limited edition bottles, all customised by the crème-de-la-crème of London’s queer counter-culture, including HRH Princess Julia, designer Henry Holland, and knitwear demigods Sibling. Scarper over to auction site Givergy, where these bottles are being sold off in support of LGBT charity Stonewall. Don’t worry if you can’t afford one of these unique objets, Absolut will also be donating a percentage of sales from bottles during Pride in London this weekend, 25th-26th June 2016.
So, get drinking, but please do so responsibly – and if you can’t drink responsibly remember to stay safe!
Article by Lee Clatworthy (@bombfashion) for katiechutzpah.com