Pride merch that actually gives back to the LGBTQ+ community
As Pride celebrations across the nation take hold this June, revelers are finding themselves surrounded by rainbow-themed parades and events, not to mention plenty of swag, too. In 2019, companies with Pride-themed merch giving back to LGBTQ+ organizations are more prevalent than ever. And as evidenced by the list below, these businesses range from clothing retailers to wineries to everything in between.
This rise is at least partly due to the the backlash to pinkwashing — i.e. the term for a brand promoting itself as pro-LGBTQ+ less because of its values and more because it's good marketing — that's taken hold in recent years. With companies increasingly under pressure to actually support the communities they're profiting off of, most of those that choose to vend Pride merch are making sure to actually give back to LGBTQ+ people.
Of course, Pride isn't a business; it's a movement, a protest, and a celebration. The struggle for LGBTQ+ equality across the world is ongoing, and Pride month offers a chance for everyone (allies included) to reflect, find joy in their differences, and push for more ways to support marginalized communities.
Yet like anything in America, there will be merch, and so check out some of the brands — from clothing boutiques to artisanal ice cream makers — that are doing some good with their Pride-themed wares this June by donating profits to causes benefiting the LGBTQ+ community.
100% of sales from American Eagle's Pride collection are donated to the It Gets Better Project, which helps support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth. The collection, available through June, excels at showcasing clothing that goes beyond rainbow prints and actually celebrates queerness.
Intelligentsia Coffee has created a new custom pin to celebrate Pride. Throughout June, it will be sold at the company's 13 coffee bars in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City as well as in its stores online. 100% of proceeds go to the Trans Student Education Research (TSER), a youth-led organization working to empower trans and gender-nonconforming young people.
This literary-themed online boutique helps fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need via wares, such as T-shirts that look like the covers of your favorite books. For Pride, the boutique is offering a special lineup of rainbow library card and rainbow unicorn socks, pins, and a tote bag; a portion of sales goes towards We Need Diverse Books, an organization promoting the success of representative stories and authors.
The athletic wear brand has redesigned some of its classic styles to incorporate rainbows and LGBTQ+ pride. The iconic Club C, Classic Leather, and Freestyle Hi silhouettes have all been updated for Pride, and a portion of proceeds from the collection are donated to Fenway Health, which helps provide healthcare to Boston's LGBTQ+ community.
This Sonoma-based winery's June special bottle release is a “Love & Pride” blend. Artist Hizze Fletcher created a queercore label featuring a closet door adorned with words and symbols relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. The winery is donating at least $7,500 from the sales of the white wine blend to LGBTQ+ Connection via Tank Cares.
Stoli's new Spirit of Stonewall bottle commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, with a design by artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer. Imagery on the bottle includes a high heel representing the uprising's trans activists, a peace sign, a protest fist, and more. A portion of proceeds are going to the Stonewall Inn Gives Back initiative, which fights for LGBTQ+ equality.
TomboyX, a gender-neutral clothing company owned by queer women, is donating 10% of profits from its limited edition Rainbow Unisuit to True Colors United. Available through June 30, the one-piece gender-neutral swimsuit is printed with a rainbow of pride colors, and available in sizes XS to 4X.
KIND snacks has launched its first-ever KIND Pride bar, which also marks the first installment of the brand's newest fundraising effort, The Kindness Project. The limited edition Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bars feature a Pride flag-inspired rainbow wrapper, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to the Ali Forney Center, which helps homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11 contestant Nina West has collaborated with Jeni's to release a Pride ice cream flavor and T-shirt. Nina's flavor, available at scoop shops nationwide, consists of a slightly salty vanilla custard swirled with pastry flakes and a ribbon of strawberry sauce. Customers can also buy a special pint collection including Gooey Butter Cake, Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Blackout Chocolate Cake, and a dairy-free Cold Brew with Coconut Cream in Jeni's online store. The company is donating all profits to The Nina West Foundation to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Madewell's limited-edition “Love to All” collection is back in stores and online, with the brand indefinitely donating 50% of the purchase price of each item to the Human Rights Campaign. The Pride-themed campaign features a rainbow "Love To All" graphic, and includes unisex items like a bandana, sweatshirt and tee. Pieces range $12.50-$59.90 and are available until they sell out.
100% of net proceeds from Levi's Pride Collection go to the OutRight Action International, an organization that promotes human rights for LGBTQ+ people all over the world. The apparel collection includes rainbow T-shirts, tube socks, boxers, tote bags, and more.
For the next six weeks, 40% of all socks that start-up sock brand Bombas sells (up to 1 million pairs) will be donated to homeless LGBTQ+ people; as reported by the Williams Institute, four out of 10 members of the homeless youth community are LGBTQ+.
Clothing company ASOS partnered with GLAAD for an exclusive collection in which 100% of the brand's proceeds go to the LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization. The collection includes unisex two-piece outfits with the word "unity" printed on them, as well as a clear phone bag, which is actually a pretty practical item to bring to any Pride parade.
In addition to offering many PRIDE-themed products from companies making individual donations to LGBTQ+ charities, Target is also donating $100,000 to GLSEN, an organization aimed at creating LGBTQ+-inclusive schools.
As more companies add rainbow-themed swag to their stores, consider asking where proceeds are being donated before you purchase. It's crucial to make sure that brands aren't just pushing LGBTQ+ Pride merch, but giving back while they do it.