On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that are widely believed to be the catalyst of the LGBTQ+ movement, a number of brands and retailers have been taking steps to communicate messages of inclusivity.
The Germany-based Adidas, performance shoemaker Merrell and FN 2015 Brand of the Year Under Armour are among the major names in the running shoe industry that continue to make strides, whether through the release of Pride-themed footwear or collaborating with organizations that support LGBTQ+ groups.
In celebration of Pride Month, FN rounds up six companies that are off and running when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusive messages.
Just in time for the month’s festivities, Adidas has released four rainbow-hued styles of its signature sneaker models: the Ultra Boost 19 and Continental 80 sneakers as well as the Adilette slide and Adidas Originals Ozweego. The launches are part of the brand’s Pride pack, with the latter being the first silhouette that hit stores. Separately, the Three Stripes is also supporting The Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services to members of the LGBTQ+ youth.
In May, Brooks announced the beginning of a two-year partnership with International Front Runners, a global network of LGBTQ+ running clubs that promote inclusion in the industry. The Seattle-based company will work with the organization to host membership drives, community fun-runs and more fundraising events — with donations going to local clubs, starting with its hometown group, Seattle Front Runners. As part of the collaborative effort, it will also debut a limited-edition collection of apparel and accessories dubbed Run Proud.
“We have always believed running is the most inclusive sport ever known — all are welcome,” Brooks CEO Jim Weber said in a statement. “We’re excited to work with International Front Runners to cultivate opportunities to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ running community.”
For a special iteration of its classic 990 sneaker, New Balance teamed up with fashion label Todd Snyder, resulting in the Love 997 — a Pride-inspired shoe with its vibrant color palette of white peach, cedar quartz and copper rose. The brand was launched with the help of New York City-based community band The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps, which has participated in the NYC Pride March for more than four decades.
“We couldn’t be more proud that they were the very first to cut a rug in this new design,” New Balance announced. “The Big Apple Corps embodies the values of love and equality that this march is all about, making them the ideal partners.”
Since 2012, Nike has been honoring the LGBTQ+ community with its “Be True” collection. This Pride Month, the athletic behemoth’s limited-edition line pays homage to political activist and Pride flag designer Gilbert Baker. The capsule includes T-shirts, hoodies and a shoulder bag, as well as four kicks decorated in the eight stripes of the Pride rainbow. (Baker created the flag in 1978, debuting in the San Francisco Pride Parade. It is now recognized as a global symbol of unity among LGBTQ+.) The launch coincides with the Swoosh’s support of more than 20 organizations — including the National Gay Basketball Association and the Point Foundation — through grants administered by the Charities Aid Foundation of America.
This month, Reebok’s signature shoes are getting a touch of the rainbow, with the company replacing its Reebok flag with the Pride flag on its Club C, Classic Leather and Freestyle Hi sneakers. Along with its Pride Pack, the Boston-based brand has pledged to donate through the end of the month a portion of its proceeds — valued at up to $50,000 — to Fenway Health, an organization dedicated to providing access to health care, education and other services to the LGBTQ+ community.
“Inclusivity has been an intrinsic part of building our foundation, so working alongside a health center like Fenway Health felt like such a natural fit,” said Matt Blonder, VP of digital brand commerce and co-chair of Reebok’s Colorful Soles LGBTQ+ employee resource group. “We pride ourselves in working with those who share these same bold and inclusive values.”
Following the launch of its first Pride collection last year, Under Armour has released the UA Hovr SLK sneaker. The was developed with the help of the brand’s internal LGBTQ+ club, Unified, and inspired by the concept “beauty is born of chaos,” referencing the Stonewall uprising of 1969. “The mayhem of that event inspired a unique interpretation of the rainbow you see in this year’s UA Hovr SLK ‘Pride’ colorway,” said Yurri Mial, the company’s sportstyle design manager. “It’s important to us to meld the reality of the events and tell the story behind it.” Under Armour also provides financial support to Athlete Ally, a nonprofit group working to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports.
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