There’s nothing I hate more than when a company tries to make money off of an important cause, especially when they don’t even try to give back to the community.
But unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens every June when Pride Month rolls around.
This year, Kate Spade New York decided to take advantage of LGBTQ+ pride with a new capsule collection of t-shirts, totes, hats, jewelry, and more. With the exception of the jewelry, every item is emblazoned with a big, bold spade (the Kate Spade New York icon). The only thing about the designs that even attempts to evoke pride is that the spades have been changed from black to rainbow.
The collection starts at a cool $58 because nothing quite says LGBTQ civil right like a $78 t-shirt that has “Kate Spade New York” in giant letters, right?
What truly makes this Pride collection problematic is that, rather than donate the proceeds of the collection, Kate Spade New York is making a measly $25,000 donation to The Trevor Project (which is essentially chump change for a company that sells $300 handbags).
This is part of a growing problem among big companies that try to join the Pride bandwagon. As social causes become more mainstream and “popular”, brands immediately see dollar signs. They figure out crude ways to commercialize these important movements and often without actually caring about the communities in question.
But LGBTQ+ communities aren’t having it and they are actively trying to fight against companies that try to co-opt Pride for their own benefit.
Case in point: In January 2020, San Francisco Pride actually voted to ban Google and Youtube from participating in future events because they felt that their concerns weren’t pure. They deemed that the brands weren’t doing enough to stop and prevent hate speech on their platforms.
In a statement, San Francisco Pride members wrote,
“Since YouTube’s decision in May 2019 to continue to give a platform to homophobia, racism, and harassment, we have been asking the board of SF Pride to take action to remove YouTube and Google as sponsors and participants in the Pride parade and festival.”
“Companies are no longer scared to be seen as pro-LGBTQ; in fact, their participation is a great opportunity for them. We believe companies should earn that opportunity by proving that they really do stand with our community. ”
That statement perfectly sums up the issue with the commercialization of Pride. Companies want to have all the benefits of being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community without actually having to put in the work. They change their social media icons to rainbow, put out some merch in rainbow, throw a generic “Love is Love” on a t-shirt, and call it a day.
But that’s not nearly enough. You cannot be an ally merely by showing up when it’s convenient for you. You cannot ignore the LGBTQ+ community for 11 months out of the year and then hop on the bandwagon for 30 days.
Luckily, there are plenty of other places to get cool merch while also supporting the cause. Queer brands like Wildfang, The Phluid Project, and Flavnt Streetwear are great places to find cool clothes while also supporting queer designers. Some of these brands also go out of their way to donate proceeds to LGBTQ+ rights organization.
Another great option is to hit up Etsy where you can support independent artists.
Either way, we strongly urge you to put down the Kate Spade and find other ways to show your Pride!
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.