The COVID-19 pandemic may mean a lack of corporate-branded floats making their way through Pride parades, but the yearly wave of merchandising will continue unimpeded.
Nike, as well as its subsidiary Converse, has begun unveiling its latest batch of Pride-themed sneakers, which will include an Air Force 1 for the first time. Instead of the standard Pride flag that's been in use since 1978, the AF1 features the More Color, More Pride flag introduced in 2017 to highlight the need for more inclusivity in the community. Jumping off from the artist Gilbert Baker's design, it adds the colors black and brown in an effort to recognize people of color in the LGBTQ+ community.
The full Nike BeTrue lineup — In addition to the Air Force 1, Nike's 2020 BeTrue collection will also include the ACG Air Deschutz and Air Max 2090.
Originally launched in 1992, the Air Deschutz is an air-cushioned sandal equipped for the trails under the All Climate Gear umbrella. It's just the right amount of crunchy and was already one of our favorite sandals of the year. For the BeTrue collection, it adds the colors of the rainbow to the black straps' interiors for a fun but subtle treatment.
The aforementioned Air Force 1 largely sticks with a classic white upper and sole, with the addition of a shimmery rainbow Swoosh and the original rainbow flag atop the Nike logo on the midsole. All together, these details make for an ideal summer shoe.
Finally, the Air Max 2090 adds the perfunctory rainbow hits to one of Nike's newest silhouettes, which was launched in March for the 30th anniversary of the Air Max 90. There isn't much more to say about it other than it indeed having a lot of color. In other words, it's fine. It's a fine shoe.
Nike will donate $500K to 20 charities — Since the inception of Nike's BeTrue collection in 2012, the brand has been making donations to charities working to benefit the LGBTQ+ community. This year, it's pledged to donate $25,000 each to 20 different organizations (full list here) for a total of $500,000.
Despite the charitable efforts, Nike's relatively recent and safe embrace of Pride imagery hasn't been without criticism. Like other brands, it's been accused of appropriating LGBTQ+ culture for commodification — most prominently in 2017, when it adopted the pink triangle used by the organization ACT UP. After calling out Nike on Twitter for the design, Act Up ended up consulting with Nike for the distribution of its donations that year.
Meanwhile, from Converse — Converse's own releases also utilized the More Color, More Pride flag on the Chuck 70 and Chuck Taylor All Star for a range of rainbow-oriented designs, including all-over print, sequins, and asymmetrical graphics (check them all out here). Proceeds for this year's collection will go to the organizations It Gets Better Project [IGBP], Ali Forney Center, BAGLY, and OUT MetroWest.
Releases start this week — Converse's sneakers will begin releasing globally through its website on Friday, May 29, while Nike will follow first on June 5 in China before expanding to the rest of the world on June 19.