Levi’s New Pride Collection “Borrows” From ACT UP

Is it cool or co-opting?

Levi’s has released a Pride capsule collection for several years now, celebrating the LGBT community and its struggle.

The newest line, though, addresses homophobia, transphobia and AIDS-phobia with the slogan “Fight Stigma,” and includes denim shorts, gender-neutral t-shirts and tank tops, bandanas, and baseball caps.

One shirt reads “Fight Stigma” on the front, with a timeline of historic moments in the history of LGBT rights on the back.

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Another tee bears the rainbow batwing and the Levi’s logo, and the Pride bandana has a paisley print and Levi’s rainbow batwing embroidery.


We’re a little less thrilled with the trucker vest that reads “Silence Equals Death,” the phrase coined by ACT UP at the height of the AIDS epidemic in America. A portion of profits benefit the Harvey Milk Foundation, but we can’t help but wonder if it’s corporate America co-opting the resistance again. (Then again, maybe we’re just over-sensitive after the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner fiasco.)

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Levi’s does have a lengthy history of supporting the LGBT community: In 1982, the Levi Strauss Foundation became the first corporate donor to the world’s first AIDS clinic. Since then, it’s contributed more than $70 million in grants to HIV/AIDS organizations in more than 40 countries.

“Fighting stigma on any level is important. And we feel that it’s our responsibility to stand up for the issues of our time,” said Grant Barth, Levi’s chief merchandising officer. “Levi’s has always been on this journey; doing the right thing, standing up for the values and giving everyone a voice.”

The Pride collection is already available in Asia and Australia, and will launch in the U.S. and Europe at the end of May.

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.