With the WorldPride celebration of LGBTQIA+ people this year held in Sydney, and ending March 5, a parade of Australian retailers have launched new offers, partnerships and products in recent weeks. The Australian Retail Association’s chief executive Paul Zahra called WorldPride a fantastic opportunity for retailers to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion in the face of changing customer shopping patterns. “The modern consumer is shopping cautiously, thoughtful
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ghtfully and repetitively, favouring companies that align with their values and beliefs [and] are increasingly looking for companies and brands that take proactive stances on social justice and equality,” Zahra said.
“The LGBTQ+ community unfortunately, even today, can be seen as a social taboo. Corporate support of the community is the ultimate litmus test of inclusion.”
Brands as diverse as Amazon, AussieBum, General Pants, Coles, David Jones, and COS, have taken the opportunity to release a handful of colourful product lines and celebratory events to voice their support for the queer community.
Championing the cause
This year, sportswear brand Champion has continued its partnership with the Queer Sporting Alliance (QSA), which was born out of a desire to collaborate with people within the community to ensure its supportive initiatives were “relevant, authentic, and add value”.
To celebrate WorldPride, the brand hosted a ‘Ba-skate-ball Jam’ event, which combined a roller disco with an exhibition basketball match – the QSA’s main sporting teams – hosted by Australia’s first non-binary TV host Brihony Dawson.
“We wanted to bring together two iconic sports that promote inclusivity and fun, while creating a queer sporting extravaganza to remember,” Shelen Jegsothy, marketing manager for Champion Australia and New Zealand told Inside Retail.
The event coincided with the launch of Champion’s Pride collection, ‘The Game is Not Over’.
Champion has worked together with the QSA for the past several years after initially consulting with the alliance on its first Pride collection in 2021, and has remained on the books as a major sponsor ever since.
The partnership involves delivering ongoing funding to the alliance, helping to co-host safe events, integrating the QSA’s members in Champion’s campaigns, as well as designing, producing and donating new uniforms to QSA members around the country.
QSA president and founder Stella Lesic told Inside Retail the partnership with Champion has been “life changing” for the alliance, as well as its members.
“Community sport is often financially inaccessible, and the uniforms and equipment that is available generally isn’t of amazing quality,” Lesic said.
“To be able to offer our members free top of the line Champion uniforms and the freedom to choose to play sport without having to worry about cost is something we are so proud to offer.”
Last year, Australian fashion brand Bonds kicked off The UnGENderwear Project – an initiative where the business has worked to degender its shopping experience, removing labels such as men’s and women’s from its clothing, and launching a gender inclusivity training program across its store network and head office.
Beyond the UnGENderwear Project, the business this year launched a limited-edition Pride range designed by fit, rather than gender, in collaboration with artist Kris Andrew Small.
The launch of its ‘Proud to Be’ collection was heavily influenced by the lessons learned from the UnGENderwear Project, Bonds’ marketing manager Kedda Ghazarian told Inside Retail, which highlighted the opportunities and importance of creating a more inclusive company.
“We’ve worked closely with our partners at Minus18, our panel of UnGENderwear advocates and the broader community to understand their perspectives and lived experience – and it’s been so eye opening,” Ghazarian said.
“We were thrilled to see that our customers are ready to go on this journey too, with 81 per cent of respondents [to a national survey] wanting to see more support for trans, non-binary and gender diverse shoppers.
“From a Bonds perspective, we focused on reflecting and representing everybody – be it by developing comfy products for all, or being more inclusive in our comms and shopping experiences.”