Dezeen Magazine

Nike releases trainers featuring pink triangle for Pride Month

Nike has released trainers for Pride Month that feature pink triangles, which have been met with criticism from LGBT advocacy group ACT UP.

Launched today, 6 June, the trainers are part of the BeTrue collection, which was originally created in 2012, and is updated each year as part of an initiative to create an inclusive relationship between sport and the LGBT community.

Using the slogan "reclaiming the past, empowering the future", the 2018 collection integrates "colours and symbols that have been reclaimed and historically repurposed by the LGBTQ community," according to Nike.

The updated collection features variations of the Nike Vapormax Plus, the Nike Air Max 270, the Nike Zoom Fly and the Nike Epic React Flyknit in lavender shades, some with a pink triangle, which Nike describes as "a shape that has a complex past in LGBTQ culture".

"Originally used to identify LGBTQ individuals during WWII, the triangle was reclaimed in the 1970s by pro-gay activists and was later adopted by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in their memorable 1980s-era 'Silence=Death' campaign," explained Nike.

However, the use of the pink triangle for financial gain by Nike has been met with criticism from ACT UP.

The advocacy group said on Twitter, "Hey Nike. We love that you're moved by our work. How about donating the proceeds to current work we continue to do?"

ACT UP co-facilitator Jason Rosenberg also commented: "This is why the queer community has a murky relationship with corps. They appropriate our messaging for profit."

"The corporatisation of pride has been an ever-looming issue we've been seeing for [the] past decade and beyond," Rosenberg explained in an interview with digital news outlet Mic.

"We've seen companies and institutions participate in pride en masse, even some that have poor LGBTQIA+ employment discrimination records or an utter lack of representation in the workroom."

Rosenberg argued that Nike's campaign has no indication that the company will donate any of its proceedings to queer movement-based organisations.

"We deserve better [than] to have our work be exploited by corporations that profiteer off grassroots resistance imagery," he continued.

The 2018 BeTrue collection also includes T-shirts, socks, a hat and a heritage hip pack, and launches today, 6 June, online and at select retail locations.

According to Nike, the BeTrue collection's lavender colour scheme is also a reference to LGBTQ culture. "Lavender, a dynamic blending of gender-linked light blue and light pink, is one of the oldest symbolic references in LGBTQ culture," said the brand.

Dezeen has reached out to Nike for comment.

Many designers have integrated LGBTQ symbolism into their work.

Following the death of Gilbert Baker – the designer of the universal symbol of gay pride, the Rainbow Flag – advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather created a font commemorating his achievements, while earlier this year, fashion house Burberry updated its classic tartan using rainbow-hued stripes in support of LGBT charities.