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Can Indian fashion become more LGBTQI+-friendly?

Every June, brands use rainbow-themed colours for merchandise to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. We asked designers about the true meaning of inclusive fashion

A sketch by shoe designer Jeetinder Sandhu
A sketch by shoe designer Jeetinder Sandhu

Each June, the LGBTQ+ community around the world celebrates Pride Month with dance parties, food pop-ups and parades.

Several designers, labels and brands start offering rainbow-coloured clothes and accessories. For instance, this year, Calvin Klein launched a special collection of apparel, innerwear and accessories earlier this month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, as did Versace. Keratase has brought out a limited-edition hair oil to mark the month, though the link to Pride seems tenuous.

Some brands have such launches every year; others do it occasionally, depending on the footfall the previous collection brought in and the space they want to occupy in a socially conscious world.

Also read: Pride becomes a minefield for big companies, but many continue their support

Fashion brands have a long list of “special” days to celebrate— Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—so are their Pride Month launches just an addition to the list? Is there a risk of reducing the entire queer community’s way of living into a month-long theme?

We reached out to designers who belong to the community and asked them what Pride means to them, and whether Pride-themed merchandise is a good idea. Some of the designers have shared a sketch that reflects their thoughts on inclusive fashion.


Pride for me is to be able to build and live a life of one’s choice. I always gravitate towards Pride products from smaller brands and businesses that are either LGBTQ+ owned or strong allies of the community, are friendly, welcoming and have fair policies when it comes to employing people from the community and otherwise.



By Rudraksh Dwivedi
By Rudraksh Dwivedi

Pride is when being called “gay” no longer feels like an insult. It’s knowing that I am not defined by my sexual orientation. Slapping a rainbow on the merchandise doesn’t help the community progress in any way. The brands could conduct HIV awareness drives at their stores and host blood dona- tion camps to show they genuinely care. They should work with the community towards making pride a norm and not a novelty.

As far as more inclusive fashion is concerned, many designers have found what’s most profitable for them and made it a cookie-cutter business due to which all the collections end up looking generic. While I do understand the pressures of keeping a brand afloat, somewhere the creative risks that keep the consumer on their toes and looking forward to a new season, have gone missing.



By Mayyur Girotra
By Mayyur Girotra

Designating a specific month can serve as a focused opportunity to raise awareness, educate and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and equality. It creates a platform for dialogue, visibility and progress. It allows us to shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by the community, to amplify their voices, and to work towards fostering a more inclusive society.

It is also true that in recent years, Pride-themed products and campaigns have become more prevalent, particularly during this month. Some argue that for certain brands, the commercialisation of Pride may be driven primarily by profit-seeking motives rather than genuine support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, it is worth noting that even if some brands view Pride as a marketing opportunity, it can still have positive outcomes. The visibility of Pride-themed campaigns can help spread awareness, promote acceptance and normalise LGBTQ+ identities and relationships. It has the potential to reach a wider audience, including individuals who may not have been exposed to queer experiences before.



By Aniket Satam
By Aniket Satam

Pride is to be fierce and fearless about being yourself. If creating or curating Pride merchandise, make sure it gets a permanent rack in your store. Fashion can be made more inclusive by normalising it for people to experiment, especially with gender-neutral clothing. There should be more non-labelled clothing. We need more mainstream designers from the bridal space to showcase queer identities.


This special Pride merchandise is extremely gimmicky. It’s not a festival and it is not necessary that everyone parades in the rainbow colours of the community. Don’t get me wrong, Pride month is definitely worth celebrating, everyone should celebrate it, but it is hurtful when those same people don’t seem to care about the community the rest of the year or make an effort to be truly inclusive of members of the community.

Also read: Mayyur Girotra to kickstart New York Pride 2023 with ready to wear line


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