22 Brands Selling LGBT Pride Apparel In 2018, Ranked By Highly Subjective Criteria

Ah, Pride Season. A time to take pride in who you are, especially if “who you are” is a person who is skeptical of Pride! The LGBTQ+ community’s contentious relationship with the corporations who cash in on / celebrate our community every June is a storied and well-documented saga, and every year we approach a new chapter of this epic tome. However, as much as we often feel conflicted about corporations, most of the brands selling gay apparel this summer are giving significant donations to LGBTQ+ non-profits doing incredibly relevant work — and a corporation’s Pride collection can often suggest that they’ve got some good LGBTQ+ people working for them who are making innovative and relatively progressive choices.

A quick sidenote: every June we’re bombarded with press releases about Pride branding tie-ins, but never do these companies actually want to buy advertising from us. They just want free coverage of their partnerships. So, that’s my disclaimer: a great way to support LGBTQ community health is to put money into independent queer media, and I wish these companies did that.

I’ve loosely grouped the collaborations into possibly arbitrary groups based on vague criteria, none of which I feel very strongly about. The rankings are mildly influenced by a company’s positive history with the LGBTQ community but are not influenced by the company’s overall ethics, their history or reputation in other areas, or by the politics, religious affiliations or lobbying activities of its leadership teamUndoubtedly most corporations do some bad things. This is a fact of capitalism.

“Non-Profit Partner” refers to a non-profit who is the direct recipient of money raised around the company’s pride apparel collection. Many of these companies donate to LGBTQ non-profits independently of their Pride Collections.

In total, the apparel we will consider today includes 23 variations on “Love” (including five “Love is Love” items and four “Love Wins”) as well as 15 takes on Pride, Equality, and being United. Only two companies on this list actually used one or more of the words represented in the LGBTQ+ acronym.


The Okay, Sure

Target: #TakePride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: ????

In 2017 and in years prior, Target, a consistent LGBT ally, has publicly partnered with non-profits around their Pride Gear and engaged in high-level gimmickry: this year, not so much, although their press release is very enthusiastic regardless, especially regarding their exclusive release of Love Simon and the fact that they are selling The Harry’s Shave Kit in stores (100% of profits from that specific product do go to GLAAD.) They’ve got some fresh-faced queers on their website sharing their favorite Target items, aggressively rainbowed accessories, and cheap pronoun pins you could also easily pick up from a queer indie retailer!

Target has been good to our community, though, through standing up for trans folks w/r/t bathroomsmoving away from gender-based signscommitting $20 million to installing gender-neutral single-stall bathrooms in stores that don’t have one, and making their stores obnoxiously gay for a month every year. Meanwhile, conservatives remain flummoxed by Target’s refusal to cater to their intolerance, and alt-right news outlets remain convinced that their Target boycott caused the store’s sales to tank. They also earned a 100 on the 2018 HRC LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.

ETA: A reader reports that they’re selling bi and trans pride items in their stores — I didn’t see them online in the Pride section of Target’s website, but that’s pretty cool!


Adidas: Pride Pack

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: ???!?!?!

Style-wise, these are winners. Abandoning the gaudiness of yesteryear’s Pride situations, Adidas’s 2018 Pride Pack sneakers are all about subtle pastels and year-round cool. Adidas’s copywriter promises that “these shoes celebrate LGBT pride with an explosion of bright colors,” which is false, because shoes cannot celebrate things because they are inanimate objects. However, if you’ve always dreamed of sticking your foot into a shoe that says “LOVE UNITES” on the sole, then wow have I got great news for you.

Adidas earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ+ Corporate Equality Index.


The Pretty Good

Nike BeTrue 2018: Reclaiming the Past

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: “Organizations supporting LGBT issues in sports,” unspecified amount, unclear if this is tied to sales.

Nike has donated a portion of its proceeds to LGBTQIA causes since launching its first “Be True” campaign in 2012 (over $2.5 million as of 2017), and purportedly will continue to do so this year. They’ve been funding The LGBT Sport Coalition (recently renamed The LGBT Sports Foundation and seemingly struggling through some growing pains) since its inception, as well as sponsoring the annual LGBT Sport Summit, but no specific recipient is noted in any current BeTrue materials. Nike has earned a “100” from the HRC’s LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.

But… two sneakers from Nike’s 2018 collection promise to “reclaim the past” and “empower the future” by taking a pink triangle — a symbol originally employed by Nazis during World War II and reclaimed by designer Avram Finkelstein’s Silence = Death Project in the ’90s, who then donated it to HIV/AIDS activist organization ACT UP! — and slapping it directly onto some very aerodynamic and stylish sneakers. Yikes!!!! While it’s true that pink triangles are commonly incorporated into gay apparel, this particular company and this particular design in this particular context inspires intense cognitive dissonance. It’s tacky at best, profoundly messed up at worst. ACT UP agrees:

Nike tweeted back “Let’s talk. Our BETRUE team will reach out,” and we’ll see what comes of that.


GAP: We Are One Collection

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: United Nations Free & Equal Campaign for LGBTI equality, $5 from each t-shirt sale

As in 2017, The Gap is coming in cold with an uninspired collection of Pride Tees that are somehow already on sale. Maybe it’s because I personally designed the logo with leftover washi tape from camp and am ashamed of myself for having so much internalized homophobia that instead of writing words that had some meaning to the LGBTQ+ community, I wrote “We Are One” instead, which could honestly really mean anything and also is definitively untrue.

Gap Inc has consistently earned high marks from the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees, scoring a perfect 100 in 2018.


Banana Republic: Love is Love

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: United Nations Free & Equal Campaign for LGBTI equality, $5 from each t-shirt sale with a minimum $10k and maximum $60k donation

My former employer Banana Republic, another Gap Inc property, unleashed a terrifying display of love and affection upon the city of San Francisco to kick off Pride Month by having all its employees, appropriately adorned in colorful Pride tees and carrying sheets of colored poster-board, exit their corporate offices en masse and walk enthusiastically towards the landmark Cupid’s Span sculpture (commissioned by Gap founders in 2002) where they eventually formed the shape of a rainbow-colored heart, “creating a powerful image of equality to be shared around the world.”

Another powerful image of equality? Elephants, apparently. Why elephants? Love is love!


The Good

Abercrombie & Fitch: Made For Love

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: The Trevor Project, $250,000 plus 100% of proceeds (with a $20,000 max contribution)

Love is love love is love love love love rainbows love and rainbows pride love rainbows!!! You know, when I close my eyes and think about gay people, the first thing I think is “Love… Try some.”

Abercrombie & Fitch earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.


Under Armour: United We Win

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Athlete Ally, 100%

Next time you’re out there on the b-ball court shooting hoops and dreaming big, please feel comforted to know that “no matter who you love, how you look, where you’re from, or what sport you play,” Under Armour stands behind you. That’s right: they’re right behind you. Turn around and look for yourself! I’ll wait. Under Armour will “stand behind all athletes, no exceptions.” Under Armor specifically is going to celebrate you by making normal UA gear, but with rainbows! Proceeds support Athlete Ally, who educate athletic communities at all levels on how to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people in sports.

Under Armour earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.


Calvin Klein: Wear Yours With Pride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Human Rights Campaign, but it’s unclear if this is tied to Pride Apparel sales in any way. “In support of LGBTQ equality, CALVIN KLEIN has made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation™”

Calvin Klein has taken clothing they already make and turned it into… rainbow clothing they already make! Yay rainbows for everybody! Rainbows forever!

Calvin Klein consistently ranks among the most LGBTQ-friendly brands. I mean honestly their CK One campaign in the ’90s is my root. They earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.


Madewell / JCrew: Love To All

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Human Rights Campaign, 50% of purchase price

I love Madewell’s jeans and wispy-soft t-shirts and Madewell loves all, and “all” includes the HRC.


Everlane: 100% Human

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Human Rights Campaign, 20%

Everlane, one of the few companies on this list truly committed to ethical production practices (and STILL one of the few companies on this list to reject Autostraddle as an affiliate, BUT IT’S FINE), continues the 100% Human campaign they started last year with another 100% Human Campaign Pride Collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign. Last year Everlane won high “marks” from us for its inspirational assemblage of cool LGBTQ folks, like Hari Nef and Rowan Blanchard, and their #HumanTogether initiative, but this year they’ve taken a more low-key approach. It’s okay, we’re all only human.


The Great

These companies get extra points for exceptionally inventive & informed design choices, actually saying the word “gay,” and/or featuring a cool and/or diverse array of actual lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and trans people in their Pride campaigns.

H&M: Pride Out Loud

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: United Nations Human Rights Office Free & Equal Campaign, 10% of sales (guaranteed minimum of $350,000)

H&M’s first-ever Pride collection was launched in collaboration with Out Magazine and gets extra points for featuring Art Hoe Collective founder Gabrielle Richardson (I believe she is representing the “L” for us) as well as Kim Petras, model Shaun Ross, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Aja. They’re also making a huge guaranteed minimum donation to their non-profit partner.

H&M’s Pride Out Loud page intermingles their Pride line — some basic tanks and tees slapped with words like “Equality” and “Love” and a fun black mesh t-shirt dress with a rainbow “Equality” gradient logo — with other H&M items.

“H&M believes in everybody’s right to love who they want,” H&M’s head of Menswear Design told WWD, clearing up any misconceptions anybody had about H&M’s stance on love. He hopes people can use H&M’s Pride collection to celebrate their belief in equal love. Literally every time I think about equal love, I go to H&M, so this is going to be really easy for me.


Lane Bryant: Fast Lane Pride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: GLSEN, 10% of sales

Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind, life in the fast lane, everything, all the time! Wow, I love love! Also that bra is real cute and Lane Bryant gets bonus points for sending all this cute stuff to Reneice for her to model for you all.


American Eagle: It Gets Better

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: It Gets Better Project, 100% of Proceeds

American Eagle, my favorite source of AA-cup bras, has a selection of tees and tanks with inspirational messages like “Proud,” “It Gets Better” and YOU GUESSED IT — “Love is Love.” It Gets Better Executive Director Brian Wenke says, of the collab: “Our partnership with American Eagle Outfitters for the #WeAllCan campaign is the perfect collaboration to ensure that LGBTQ youth know they have the potential to achieve great things and to make a tangible and positive difference in the world.”

American Eagle gets major bonus points actually printing the word “gay”!! One of their shirts even says “lesbian” on the back!!!!

American Eagle earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.


Converse Pride Collection by Miley Cyrus

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Happy Hippie Foundation, “Converse’s LGBTQ+ youth community partners around the world,” 100% of proceeds

If you’re looking for an idea, here’s one from Converse, which is owned by Nike: “show your support for all genders, orientations, and identities with shoes and clothing from the Converse Pride Collection designed by Miley Cyrus.” In addition to the shoes pictured above, the collection includes a white tracksuit and some polka-dotted t-shirts with matching hats that would befit an employee of Dylan’s Candy bar or somebody trying to give me a migraine. All net proceeds will support Converse’s LGBTQ+ youth community partners around the world, including Miley’s Happy Hippie Foundation.


JCrew: Love First

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: Human Rights Campaign, 50% of purchase price

J.Crew promises to send 50% of the purchase price of its Love First socks & tees collection to the Human Rights Campaign, but more importantly, they recruited Jamaican women-in-menswear fashion icon Allison Graham of @shedoeshim and makeup artist Earon Dianna (@earondianna) to front for the brand.

Unfortunately, in what I can only interpret as a personal attack on me, Toby from Pretty Little Liars is somehow involved in this campaign and is pictured canoodling with Shoshanna from Girls on their Pride page. Are they dating? Don’t tell me.

This campaign gets high marks for how adorably Allison is geeking out about being part of the campaign on her insta feed, and also because the t-shirts are actually cute.


MeUndies: Wear It With Pride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: True Colors Fund, unspecified amount, unclear how it is tied to apparel sales.

MeUndies, who continues to deny Autostraddle membership in its affiliate program for reasons that remain mysterious and elusive, debuted one of our fave collaborations last year — this year’s slightly less ambitious, but still notable for working with QPOC designer Oscar Zaldaña and getting lots of hot LGBT influencers to wear underpants on their instagram accounts, including your true love Hayley Kiyoko.


Levi’s: Be Proud. Be Bold. Be Yourself.

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: The Harvey Milk Foundation and the Stonewall Community Foundation, 100%

As last year, San Francisco based Levi’s gets props for a genuine commitment to the LGBTQ community that began far before such a commitment was even remotely popular. Levi’s 2018 Pride collection isn’t quite as daring or inspirational, design-wise, as last year’s, but their 2018 Pride Cast includes some pretty kickass faces, like chef Melissa King, photographer/speaker io Tillett Wright, genderqueer model/motorcyclist TJ & her partner, model/actress Nicole.

Levi’s was the first corporation to give to HIV/AIDS causes, with a commitment that dates back to 1982, when they were the first corporate donor to help open the world’s first AIDS clinic at the San Francisco General Hospital. Then-CEO Robert Haas was a fierce critic of the federal response to AIDS and added AZT to employee healthcare plans in 1987. They were the first company to file an amicus brief with the CA Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage, and the first Fortune 500 company to extend domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. Their inclusive advertising efforts include the 2008 Logo/Levis Unbuttoned campaign that included a clip starring Sarah Croce, shot by our very own Robin Roemer. They also earned a “100” on the HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index.

In total, Levis has contributed over $70 million US dollars to HIV/AIDS organizations in over 40 countries and supported organizations including the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal.

The FIGHT STIGMA campaign also includes a video series featuring LGBTQ Levi’s employees.


American Apparel: They Is Okay

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: The Trevor Project, 100% of Proceeds

As usual, American Apparel is aiming straight for your hipster heart with a trendy line of tees, modeled by actual everyday LGBTQ people recruited by open call. On the AA campaign website, real human models share their experiences with coming out and being themselves.


Hollister: Wear Your Pride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: GLSEN, donating $250,000 as well as 100% of proceeds on the collection up to $25k

Hollister coming in strong, like last year, with a collection that mixes sort of unfortunate choices with genuinely cute items and makes a significant financial commitment to GLSEN. Hollister has partnered with GLSEN in the past to produce a Safe Schools campaign and coordinate the Day of Silence, and its website features a video of LGBTQ students talking about what makes school safe for them. Hollister is also conducting an in-store round up bringing donations to GLSEN, in addition to their 250k sponsorship. Last month, GLSEN honored Hollister with their Corporate Ally Award for their leadership in supporting safe and inclusive K-12 schools.


Urban Outfitters: Love is Love

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: GLSEN, $10 – $15 per item

Again, it bears mentioning that Urban Outfitters is… not a great corporation in general. But! They’ve clearly got some very clever, socially conscious human beings on their team ’cause last year’s Pride Collab was HOT and this year’s even hotter because it’s fronted by your true love Hayley Kiyoko. No piece in the collection is over $35, and a significant portion of every purchase (between $10-$15, depending on the item) goes straight to GLSEN. This shirt is my favorite Pride design of 2018.


Just Wanted To Mention

In addition to above criteria, these stores are not only making donations to LGBTQ+ non-profits, they are LGBTQ-owned! This means literally all your money is going to a great cause.

Wildfang: Show Your True Colors

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: The Trevor Project, Unspecified Amount

Although a portion of the proceeds from the Wild Feminist Pride Collection go towards the Trevor Project, it’s worth noting that Wildfang is owned and operated by lesbian and queer women already, so you’re really getting a double whammy here.


Tomboy X: Rainbow Pride

Non-Profit Partner for Pride Apparel: National Center for Lesbian Rights, Unspecified Amount

Tomboy X gets all the bonus points: they’re a lesbian owned-and-operated brand dedicated to size inclusion and bodies that don’t necessarily conform to mainstream conventions. They’re giving back to an organization other corporations on this list have likely never even heard of, and probably would avoid due to its specific focus on women. Also, it’s really fucking hot at Pride and if you are really devoted to rainbows, a sports bra counts as a top!


Wanna pick up a Pride-relevant tee from an actual lesbian or queer person?? Check out our list of indie merchants here.


Are you following us on Facebook?

Riese is the 36-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2554 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. These products are giving me serious tautology-phobia. Love is love has been repeated so many times as to suggest brainwashing/global corporate conspiracy, thus I have become convinced that love cannot possibly be love, and am highly suspicious about what it really is.

  2. Riese, I made a policy for you:

    We will feature your pride merch if any of the following are true:
    a) your company is queer-owned
    b) you have publicly donated a significant specified amount or percentage of proceeds to queer-led organizations*
    c) You pay Autostraddle $5,000

    *Especially ones that are not the HRC. Please consider queer organizations led by people of color or funds and foundations that prioritize queer orgs led by people of color. Here are some examples: The Astraea Foundation, http://www.lgbtqracialjusticefund.org/grantees/, https://www.transjusticefundingproject.org, http://thirdwavefund.org/about.html, http://fundingqueerly.net/ and many more.

  3. I think Target deserves some extra credit for stocking trans and bi pride products in their stores, not just rainbow stuff. I was amazed to walk in to a suburban target and find a bunch of merch with the bi and trans flag colors on it.

  4. I would like to throw some bonus points to Calvin Klein. The designer was involved in the early days of the AIDS crisis and helped with charities and events to raise money to help. Way before it was popular for companies to support gay causes, especially ones linked to HIV/AIDS.

  5. I love these round-ups every year — it’s like the most fun and informative combination of online shopping and eye-rolling at brands. Thank you for putting in what must be a huge amount of work.

    Are there still people out there who want to wear a shirt that says “love is love”?? Is it that straight people keep buying those shirts to show how cool/woke they are, so brands think they’re really popular?? I am still a sucker for rainbows (so who am I to judge, really), but I just cannot stand the nonsense phrases/words. I also don’t want to be “one” or “united” or whatever.

    Also I like the American Eagle stuff and love that they have a shirt that actually lists words in the LGBTQ acronym (American Eagle has a shirt that says “queer” on it!!!) but like…does it have to include straight too? I don’t want a shirt that is enthusiastic enough about straight people to all-caps it. I would say no offense but…a little offense.

  6. As much as I hate American Apparel for what the former ceos(I’m told I’ve met the one who is the abuser at a relative birthday a decade ago) did; I do really want that Gay O.K. shirt. Plus as someone else mentioned the fact that it’s not going to the HRC is more of a bonus!

  7. “Love is love” makes me feel like my queerness only is a thing in terms of my relationships, when like, it’s my whole dang life and person. It’s telling how few retailers used actual words describing identity!

  8. Thank you for putting this together! I do want to point out that while I was at Target the other day, I noticed a shirt with a familiar print. Target has a shirt with artwork stolen from a Mexican artist. His Instagram handle is @felixdeon and his artwork is lovely. I’ll leave this link here for everyone to see. While they have removed it from the website, they haven’t removed it from the store https://www.businessinsider.com.au/target-accused-of-stealing-design-stops-selling-shirt-2018-5

  9. I’m fairly certain that the “love is love” slogan was grabbed from Lin Manuel-Miranda who repeated this over and over at the Tony Awards in 2016 in response to the Pulse murders. At the time it was incredibly powerful show of support at a tragic moment when many in the country were mourning. But capitalism has a way of cannibalizing acts of sincerity morphing them into plastic emptiness.

  10. Also, the cojones of these toolbags to send you press info about their almost universally lame collections when they won’t advertise here! And honestly what is there really to promote? Most of them pulled out their cheapest t-shirts from the discount bin and had little asian children and Latina mamis scrawl something about about the winningness of love in gel pen or grabbed a rainbow from My Little Pony. There are many creative designers in these fashion towers. Better can be done. (Why is that Urban Outfitters has produced the only item that actually made me consider pulling out my credit card? They’re slightly evil but the money is going to GLSEN which is a phenomenal organization. Ah, conundrum)

  11. Hi @riese, I know it’s a bit late for commenting on that, but I just recently realised something. I live in Poland where supporting LGBT+ rights isn’t really a thing, on the contrary rather. Some of those brands operate on Polish market and I actually considered buying sneakers from Converse’s pride collection, but… the thing is there is no Converse’s pride collection on Polish market. So I was just thinking that if you only have courage to support us in the country that is already progressive but not in the countries where this support is so much more important, you’re not a supporter. You are a douchebag who’s trying to make money of fake-involvement.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.