Just as surely as crimson-coloured merchandise are rolled out every Chinese New Year, so too are rainbow releases made during Pride Month.
June, after all, is when the LGBTQ community celebrates the freedom to be themselves, while the rest of us support their right to. Let your freak flag fly, and so on. For fashion brands, though, it’s an opportunity to explore all the colours of the rainbow, along with the various ways that they can show their solidarity with the queer community.
This year, we’ve seen the standard issue array of slogan T-shirts, sneakers and caps, as well as some surprises — including a rainbow jockstrap. (Then again, this is the same week that saw the launch of both the Yeezy Gap puffer jacket and the Balenciaga Crocs hybrid heels, so maybe nothing we say can faze you.) Regardless, we’ve decided to get into all the Pride Month collections you can shop right now, and offer our verdict on whether they actually give back or if they’re a gimmick.
With its new Pride collection, Coach’s everyday bags and travel duffles now look as fun as its fashion presentations. The New York label has given its signature canvas the rainbow treatment, on top of refashioning its leather Turnlock Clutch (S$750) and duffel bag (S$950) with brightly hued stripes. Advocacy-wise, Coach has already made donations to the Albert Kennedy Trust, Point Foundation, the CenterLink Community of LGBTQ Centers and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, all of which are dedicated to creating empowering environments for LGBTQ youths. Not to mention that this year marks the eighth year that Coach has partnered with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, whose members worked on the brand’s Pride campaign.
Buy or bust? Buy. On top of the several donations it has made to charities, Coach has long championed for diversity through its roster of ambassadors, which includes trans actress Hari Nef.
Michael Kors has assembled a diverse and queer cast of TikTok stars such as Tyshon Lawrence, Ve’ondre Mitchell and Mad Tsai to front its new capsule collection, #MKPride. The capsule includes T-shirts, hoodie dresses, bucket hats and caps emblazoned with the Michael Kors logo rendered in rainbow colours — nothing particularly groundbreaking. But the American fashion brand is still advocating for change by donating all profits from this unisex tee (S$149) to OutRight Action International, an LGBTQ human rights organisation, in the month of June.
Buy or bust? Buy, if you’re looking for some summer staples that will a dose of sunshine wherever you go.
Since 2012, Nike has celebrated Pride Month through its annual “Be True” collection. This year’s edition offers sportswear staples and four new shoes dropping on 15 June: The Infinity React sneakers, the Air Max Pre-Day sneakers, the All Out Utility Slides and the classic Blazer ’77 Low, which features a rainbow Swoosh. The Blazer Lows (S$139), constructed with white leather uppers and baby pink rubber soles, allow you to express yourself with one of nine different velcro patches. These are stamped with a flag designs representing different genders and sexual orientations. As part of the release, Nike has also donated over US$625,000 (S$828,250) to 18 LGBTQ community projects.
Buy or bust? We’d hold off on purchasing yet another pair of sneakers from the multi-billion-dollar company until it sorts out its labour exploitation issues.
This June, Donatella Versace isn’t just celebrating Pride Month; she’s also marking the 10th anniversary of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album. And she’s doing so by auctioning off a replica of the Versace leather jacket that the singer wore on tour. The Italian designer has also teamed up with Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to release a line of limited-edition T-shirts (S$380 each) and a beret (S$520). Proceeds from both the collection and the auction will benefit the Foundation, which aims to connect, engage, and inspire young people.
Buy or bust? Buy — given that Donatella Versace is an official gay icon, you can bet that her support for the queer community is more than just a marketing move.
With Demna Gvasalia at its helm, Balenciaga has been known to make moments out of its far-out fashion drops. For Pride Month, that came in the form of a rainbow thong (S$225), which you can pair with rainbow socks (S$175) and rainbow boxer briefs (S$225). Intimates aside, the brand’s Pride drop includes a range of unisex hoodies, tees and caps that read “GAY” as play on the Gap logo. “I grew up in a society where I couldn’t have worn that, and there are places in the world that you cannot today,” shared Gvasalia. “This is the political fashion activism I can do.” That, as well as donating 15 per cent of the proceeds from Balenciaga’s Pride capsule to The Trevor Project that provides suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.
Buy or bust? Remember when we said to let your freak flag fly? Well, Balenciaga’s underwear offerings are a great way to do so — if they don’t make you cringe.
Header photo credit: Michael Kors