Levi’s Sews Discontent With Jeans “Inspired” By The AIDS Memorial Quilt

"Please stop monetizing the suffering of the LGBT+ community."

At the dawn of the AIDS crisis Levi’s was one of the first companies to take a stand, with both funding and public awareness. And for the past several seasons, the San Francisco-based clothier has released a Pride capsule collection in June.

But its newest Pride line, a collection of jeans “inspired” by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, has inspired quite a bit of pushback.

The Quilt, of course, is the mammoth assemblage of tapestries honoring those who have died from HIV/AIDS, with more than 48,000 individual panels to date contributed by loved ones. (Levi’s employees actually donated patches back in 1988).

So you can imagine how using the quilt to push jeans with patches might rub some the wrong way. And if you can’t, Twitter was there to spell it out.


It’s not the first time the Pride collection has rubbed people the wrong way: In April, Levi’s advertised a denim vest bearing the phrase “Silence Equals Death” on the back.

A Levi’s spokesperson confirmed 100% of proceeds are donated to support LGBT partner organizations.

This year, the proceeds will benefit the Harvey Milk Foundation and Stonewall Community Foundation. This year’s collection was inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt. In 1988, LS&Co. employees added their panel to the quilt as a tribute to their colleagues and friends.

Our designers drew inspiration from that moment in designing this year’s collection – a reminder that we can never forget the people, including our friends and colleagues in the LGBTQ community, who lost their lives to this devastating disease. For more than 30 years, we’ve been supporting organizations dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS and we’ve contributed more than $70 million in grants to HIV/AIDS organizations in more than 40 countries.

Given the recent dustup with Pepsi, though, is Corporate America better off not wearing its heart on its sleeve—or its knee?

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.