As the world faced a transformation that was as unexpected as it was disruptive at the helm of COVID-19, the colours of Pride were shining brighter than before for the Pride Month of 2020 this June. June is the month designated as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, when the world openly celebrates love as equal for all, to honour the 1969 Stonewall Uprising originated in Manhattan, the turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Several marches and gay parades mark the highlight of the month; however, in the ties of coronavirus, several industries manifested their support for the movement through an assortment of products, campaigns and capsule drops that spotlight Pride, and the fashion industry has always been at the fore of it all.
Pride fashion this year not only brought out a plethora of garments and accessories for the consumers, but was also made a way to aid numerous foundations and NGOs to support the LGBTQ communities globally.
Pride and philanthropy
The biggest names that released capsule collections this year, offering an assortment that not only supports the Pride movement, but also aids to the several communities were global retailers like Gap Inc. supporting UN Free & Equal campaign, Wrangler giving out 100 per cent profits of its Pride 2020 collection for the LGBT Foundation, with other international bigwigs including Ugg which donated US $ 125,000 to its global partner GLAAD and Polo Ralph Lauren, which released its Pride cotton sweater retailing at US $ 198, with 25 per cent of proceeds going for the aid of Stonewall Community Foundation.
Popular UK e-tailer Asos collaborated with LGBTQI+ talent to amplify their voices and stand in solidarity with all community members in addition to donating 100 per cent of profits from their fourth Pride collection with GLAAD to the charity, and Puma launched ‘From Puma With Love’ in collaboration with Cara Delevingne, giving 20 per cent of proceeds to her namesake foundation, under the Giving Back Fund, in support of LGBTQIA+ charities such as GLAAD, The Trevor Project and Mind Out.
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“The LGBTQ community has constantly shown us that love, pride and hope will overcome fear and hate,” says Sonia Syngal, CEO, Gap Inc. “This resiliency reminds us how important it is to keep working for a world where everyone everywhere is able to live free from discrimination. We’re honoured to continue the fight for equality and our support for UN Free & Equal.” Gap’s collection imbibed the spirit of Pride with VIBGYOR in myriads of tie and dye motifs and its premier brand Banana Republic released a series of Pride accessories for men and women with AOP prints such as rainbow hearts and even using VIBGYOR thread over solid colours to showcase design details through simple stitching. 2020 marks their fifth year with UN’s campaign UN Free & Equal, making their total donation to exceed US $ 500,000 in 5 years.
Levi’s released its Pride campaign ‘Use Your Voice’ offering denim trucker jackets with rainbow stripes, graphic logos and soft tie and dye over graphic tees, socks, underwear, a bandana and denim chaps.
Jen Sey, Levi’s SVP and CMO, Global Brands, identified the brand as a “longstanding advocate for equality – never afraid to use our voice to do what’s right for our employees, our partners and our fans, and thus, support those who speak up for equality, who use their voices to drive progress and make a positive impact in their communities,” further adding, “This year’s Pride collection is both an encouragement and a celebration of those that use their voices to change the world.” 2020 is the second year for the brand’s partnership with OutRight Action International, and with Levi’s’ 100 per cent proceeds from the collection going to the NGO’s aid.
Pride in India – A slow but significant journey
Matching up to the fervour of global Pride celebrations along with the recent development of making Article 377 void in the Indian Constitution, Indian fashion industry saw a more enthusiastic approach towards this category. The biggest instances were the recent collections by Siddartha Tytler and Pranay Baidya and complementing the same were smaller drops by collectives such as Generation Mixx and small-scale start-up designer labels.
Siddartha Tytler’s ‘Original Sin’ unveiled a myriad of gender-fluid pieces romanticising the idea of Pride, with a light vibe depicting “free love and pieces that are soft, ethereal, which is a complete departure from what we usually do,” in the designer’s own words. The collection included use of organza and light fabrics over silhouettes such as tie-necks and exaggerated sleeves for men, along with tiered drapes and fluid necklines for women with a rainbow coloured saree as the highlight.
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‘Original Sin’ – Siddartha Tytler SS2020 – A Pastel Party. . . Models : @iammirtawseef @aanchal.jain.7731 MUA – @divarose @karanrai001 @kiran_chhetri92 . . . Styling – @sommyericc Assisted by – @deepshikha_chaudhary . . Photographer – @karishmabediphotography . . Jewellery- @devanshu_sharma1 . . #SidTytler #SS20 #SiddarthaTytler #Fashion #India #IndianFashion #SpringSummer #Luxury #Delhi #Style #Womenswear #IndianWedding #ShopNow #IndianDesigner #Lehenga #Menswear
On the other hand, Pranay Baidya championed equal love through his menswear collection of printed Chanderi kurtas with the belief that “in the end, love always wins.” “The idea was to present a collection which is impactful to many, easy to wear and sparks off a meaningful dialogue. 2020, in the wake of COVID-19, is a year of reset, refresh and change. Each one in our communities across the world also has an underlying obligation to come together, accept racial and sexual diversity, celebrate love and be inclusive. 2020 is not cancelled,” he added.
Many smaller labels were also seen doing their part in the bigger motive of promoting Pride India. Delhi-based Sukkiran by Kiranpreet and Sukhjit Kaur Kalsi recently unveiled ensembles including design details like tiered VIBGYOR made with flounce organza, or floral and tropical motifs embroidered onto transitional Indo-western pieces.
“We see that Pride is now supported in India more than ever before, with works of major designers or retailers. But we don’t know the effect on the general consumer groups who shop from affordable luxury labels based out of design clusters such as Shahpur Jat or Hauz Khas, as they formulate the bigger audience,” expresses Kiran, further stating, “Through our creations, we are trying to make people find their own rainbow, and be comfortable in their own skin. We converted our pastel aesthetics to adopt the Pride colours. Size inclusion is now an old trait rather than a new addition, and just as we now cater to all shapes and sizes, we should create an environment where everyone is comfortable to buy whatever they wish to wear, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. Little stores and statements will definitely make a difference.”
Another collective that is making ripples in the LGBTQ merchandise arena is MIXX by Ruchika Parab and Shruti Singhi, who believe in strengthening the idea of gender equality in urban settings through campaigns and offerings in art, design, publication, fashion, film, school curriculums and even food. “It’s never been more important to think about why we buy what we buy – who made it, who does it benefit, can it benefit more people. When Pride month came along, we thought it would be a great opportunity to create a list of products that support pride and brands and entrepreneurs from within the community too, especially which are ethically made,” avers Ruchika.
“Because Pride month was forced into a digital space, thanks to the lockdown, we came up with an idea to curate products from ally brands under the MIXX Pride Drop Shop featuring everything from a lipstick to a cake and a mask to a soap,” Shruti chimes in. Their bestsellers from the drop were the face masks from Bloni, Soap from The Nature Masons, lipsticks from Disguise and Jubilee plate from Terravida.
The journey is slow, but the nation is now directed by a generation that not only knows its rights, but also uses its voice to fight for the rights of the others, and with the significant changes such as voiding Article 377, Pride in India will take new leaps and the fashion industry will follow suit.