Happy Pride! Happy… Capitalism?
Happy Pride Month! If you live in NYC, there is no doubt that you’ve noticed pride-themed products, LGBTQ+-centered ad campaigns and an explosion of pride flags outside of businesses. While it may seem like a fun, colorful addition to these rainy June days, there are many severe issues surrounding capitalism facing the community. Rainbow Capitalism (which is, admittedly, a pretty-fabulous-sounding term) is an insidious issue that few know about. As a dry cleaning company that focuses on fashion, we pay attention to the brands that come into Clean Headquarters in order to provide the Clean Family with the best service. Unfortunately, we also see people wearing brands that are engaging in Rainbow Capitalism. We think it’s our social responsibility to buy smart from brands worthy of support as socially conscious consumers. GET CLEAN, NYC.
So, what is Rainbow Capitalism?
Rainbow Capitalism is when companies incorporate symbols of the LGBTQ+ rights movement into their marketing and products. It’s done to attract spending by queer individuals and allies and exploit the relatively recent wave of support for LGBTQ+ issues. Actually, Rainbow Capitalism draws parallels to the “Pink Tax” where women pay more for the same products that men use (i.e. razors). This poses a problem for several reasons. Most notably, it turns an opportunity for activism and support into monetary gain for companies that don’t actually support these rights.
Uh, yeah. 🙅🏽♂️Not #Clean at all. 🙅🏽♂️
Thus, companies can masquerade under the illusion of support when the reality is the dirty opposite. Just like people who go to Women’s Marches for a photo-op rather than actually believing in the movement. Secondly, it has turned Pride events away from activism and into marketing opportunities. You may be wondering how I know so much about Rainbow Capitalism, well my name is Andrew from Clean and you guessed it... I’M GAY. At my last Pride parade in Seattle, well over half of all groups represented were businesses, particularly large corporations. Compare it to footage from pride parades in the 90s or 80s and you’ll see a disconnect between what Pride events started as and what they have become. In order to incite progress people need only be more involved. For those who can, donating to supportive charities, participating in demonstrations when possible, and (most importantly) VOTING for propositions and politicians that support LGBTQ+ rights.
Who’s NOT taking advantage of the rainbow?
As Pride becomes more popular, so does Rainbow Capitalism. Glitter and booty shorts (😍) will trickle down your Instagram feed, giving retail a big opportunity. This June, many companies released Pride-themed clothing collections. They’re rainbow, cute, and totally parade-worthy. BUT, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Only some of these companies donate profits to pro-LGBTQ+ charities. While not everyone can directly be an activist, there are ways to ensure your spent money supports the LGBTQ+ community. To help, we found three collections from big brands that do, so you can both look fabulous and support other fabulous people!
Andrew’s Pick: For their customers, Fossil released a limited-edition pride-themed watch in their Pride Boutique. It’s only $75. SEVENTY. FIVE. DOLLARS. I love Fossil. This is a 33mm, 3-hand Quartz watch has a simplistic black with rainbow time markings and a rainbow strap. (It’d go GREAT with your Nordstrom Free To Be Me T-shirt. Just a thought.) While it is relatively muted in design compared to some of the other items, a whopping 100% of the proceeds are donated to the Hetrick-Martin Institute. This is the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ youth-serving organization in the US, advocating for policies that create supportive and safe environments for LGBTQ+ children and directly providing them with counseling and support services.
Express’s Love Unites Pride Collection is a highly varied collection of 35 pieces ranging from, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tank tops to suit jackets, rompers, and underwear. These items sport plenty of rainbow colors and the phrase “ Love Unites.” 25% of the profits from this clothing line will be donated to GLAAD, an organization that combats defamation and homophobic media coverage by “accelerating acceptance.” Express has also committed to a minimum contribution of $100,000 to GLAAD plus any additional profits from the “Love Unites” line before July 15th. This ensures that representations and discussions of LGBT+ people are based in facts and does not harm the fight for our rights.
Andrew’s Picks: For those looking for something a little more subtle, this cami is perfect for the office. Sophisticated and goes with any outfit for a professional look for your special Boss B!tch.
Nordstrom’s Pride collection honors the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. From t-shirts to cute kids rompers to t@<<>?>?//.#$GBNJKuy/./../itrt54@%$%Tfghyku7iijk …
Sorry, I got distracted.
Andrew’s Pick: Nordstrom has a great collection of Pride pieces, but only this shirt’s sales go to a good cause. “Free to be Me” written in bright rainbow colors is a simple and cute piece. It’s a different feel since it overlays a black tee. 100% of net sales will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC is the largest civil rights organization in the United States focused on achieving equality for the LGBT+. To this end, it supports pro-LGBT politicians, lobbies federal and local governments to pass policies that advance equality, engage in educational campaigns, and many other activities. You go, Nordstrom.
Disclaimer: Although this shirt is the only piece where its proceeds are donated, Nordstrom supports Pride, inclusivity, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Now, as you prepare for pride, you know where you can make a difference with your actions AND your money! Here, at Clean, we work hard to do our part to create a safe work environment where all employees are valued and accepted. Sure, we’re just a dry cleaning company, but creating jobs and cleaning clothes affects many lives and we hope that we can make a positive impact. Just by talking about it and doing our part can start the conversation and spread awareness. Clean is an equal opportunity employer, focusing on inclusive hiring. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are present at all levels of the organization, including upper management. This just means that we enable diversity and inclusion in our company because we know it makes Clean stronger and smarter.
Still there are issues that are at the forefront of commercial industries, members of the LGBTQ+ community are taken advantage of by companies. This problem is prevalent in the dry cleaning world. In order to play our part we believe it’s imperative that the service we provide is equal across the board. At Clean we have implemented a transparent pricing scheme whereby articles of clothing and sizes deemed non-standard by other cleaners are charged the same price, ensuring that members of the Trans community are not charged unfair prices. However, there is still a long way to go before the LGBTQ+ community has equal rights and no longer suffers from discrimination. It’s awful that businesses are using the minority and the discriminated to their own advantage. By holding businesses, politicians, and individuals accountable and continuing to fight for this cause, we can create a world that is safe for and accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals. LET’S DO THIS 💪🏻🌈💪🏻🌈💪🏻
Andrew from Clean
Clean’s Marie Kondo
I recently completed my Master’s Degree in Development Economics at the University of Sussex in BEAUTIFUL (and very rainy) Brighton, England. Now I’m back in New York, working on Clean’s numbers and folding clothes like Marie Kondo. When I’m not making the trains run on time at Clean, I travel around the world (hoping to reach my 25th country soon!). I’m fluent in three languages: English, Japanese, and Stealing Your Husband. You can find me on the weekend in Hell’s Kitchen with a Tequila Sunrise in hand.