Probed on Pride
Recently, Smithers Swimwear was asked a series of questions around our intentions and reasons for promoting a swimsuit during Pride month. In hindsight, it was a sting operation by the publication looking to scorch brands deemed to be "rainbow washing" during Pride month.
In its simplest form, rainbow washing is when a business or organisation uses the rainbow Pride colours to suggest to consumers that they support the LGBTQ+ community, without having to put in actual effort or produce a tangible outcome for queer folk.
Needless to say, the publication didn't publish the interview with Smithers Swimwear - perhaps because Smithers is genuine when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. I spent a good amount of time putting these answers together, so I thought I'd publish the Q&A as an article myself.
What did your brand’s Pride efforts look like before COVID? Why were the steps you were taking important to you?
Each year, Smithers releases a limited edition Pride print to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, of which many of our customers are part of. As a queer business owner, it’s important to help elevate and promote a community that has given so much to so many, myself included.
How much of your Pride involvement prior to COVID was local? Did you work with local non-profits or other advocacy groups supporting LGBTQIA+ folx each year or even throughout the year?
We’ve sponsored local gay sporting teams and worked with community organisations to help build the profile of our colourful community. As our business grows, so too will our efforts to continue advocating and supporting LGBTQ+ communities locally and abroad.
A portion of sales from our Pride 2021 Unity print will be donated to Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.
How has COVID shifted your dedication to Pride? Tell me what’s changed and why. I know this is a loaded question with 2020 and recent accountability events. Share what’s within your comfort zone and know what I’m looking for most is a why behind any shifts you’ve made.
It’s not just Covid that has solidified our dedication to Pride. Its a combination of the pandemic, the power of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the rise in volume of the collective transgender voice over the past 12 months that has spurred Smithers on to be more thoughtful and considered when it comes to celebrating Pride.
The nature of these events are the underpinning themes of the Progress Pride flag which is rapidly becoming the new symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Smithers has incorporated the five-coloured chevron from the Progress Pride flag to place a greater emphasis on inclusion and progression in line with the artist Daniel Quasar's vision.
What excites you about something you’re doing for Pride this year and why? How did this idea come about?
Pride 2021 for Smithers is a celebration of resilience and reflection, with the spirit of this year's design aiming to encapsulate a sense of global unity.
Countries around the world celebrate Pride month with parades, marches, and various events. This year (and last year), those events were either postponed or moved online to help prevent the spread of Covid.
As the world begins to resurface it’s important to remember that after a storm, a rainbow appears. The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow.
If you could share one piece of advice for other businesses on how they participate in Pride, what would that be?
If you want to be heard, make a statement. But make sure your statement reflects the values of your business and the shared interests of the Pride community.