As PR and marketing campaigns are striving to be more diverse and inclusive, a new Converse collection hopes to take a big step.
The footwear brand recently released part of its Pride Collection, which include sneakers for both children and adults that carry the rainbow flag. This year, Converse is also offering designs that emulate the transgender flag.
The shoes represent a new frontier for Converse and other fashion brands looking to cater to a diverse consumer audience.
… [F]or the first time, trans-themed sneakers are also available. Most other releases have been rainbow-themed as a nod to diversity although one company did produce a limited edition shoe for “bears and the men who love them.”
Converse’s lineup includes eight different designs. They’re available in both adult and children’s sizes.
Twitter users were quick to applaud the offerings:
Converse’s pride shoe collection legitimately made me start crying look at the trans ones I’m literally sobbing. pic.twitter.com/q7WDZBUg5R
— rhiannon 40 (@sendnooder) April 20, 2019
— The Queer Network (@QueerNetwork) April 22, 2019
CONVERSE HAS A NEW PRIDE COLLECTION THAT INCLUDES TRANS PRIDE SNEAKERS FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!!!!!!
— Alysse Dalessandro🌈 (@readytostare) April 19, 2019
— Dario Dalla Lasta (@DarioDallaLasta) April 22, 2019
Though youth sizes are still available on Converse’s website, adult sizes are currently sold out. That didn’t stop Twitter users’ positive sentiment. Rather, consumers added pleas for the company to restock:
I'm not usually one for Pride-themed clothes, but these @Converse trans-themed shoes are 🔥🔥🔥
Unfortunately, they're also sold out. 😩😩😩 pic.twitter.com/Fjgr2Ys6uF
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) April 22, 2019
@Converse hey! any chance the Pride shoes will come back in stock?
— kyle 🌘 (@fasterthanlexa) April 22, 2019
— Stephanie (@ItsStephoney) April 22, 2019
@Converse restock the pride collection…;; I beg— I beg
— jay ⚔️⚡️ (@SpoonKingg) April 22, 2019
— BallpitGangsta🖕👖 (@Ballpit_Gangsta) April 22, 2019
Despite the positive sentiment, not all feedback on Twitter was positive.
Several Twitter users expressed disappointment that Converse wasn’t donating any portion of the sneakers’ proceeds to LGBTQ organizations. In response, the company’s social media team has been individually replying to Twitter users’ concerns, also spreading its brand messages:
— hps | SWT 6/26 🖤✨ (@hayllestorm) April 22, 2019
Our support of the LGBTQ+ community extends beyond our product collection & is an ongoing commitment, with contributions to youth organizations globally, such as @itgetsbetter. This year is no different & we look forward to sharing our full collection & initiatives, May 1.
— Converse (@Converse) April 22, 2019
Yeah but none of the proceeds go to lgbtq charity so its just for making a profit off the gays
— Mr. Disco (@Jorden66375453) April 20, 2019
We know that the community loves celebrating PRIDE each year & given the timelines for receiving our custom product, wanted to ensure that we are able to meet their needs. We apologize for the confusion this early release may have caused.
— Converse (@Converse) April 22, 2019
Converse’s recent marketing underlines the importance of including more inclusive images and messages within PR and marketing campaigns, whether or not you have products that cater to specific consumer groups.
A Shutterstock study revealed that the majority of marketers in the United States and the United Kingdom prioritize imagery that includes both racial diversity and same-sex couples over their brand messages, in order to represent (and appeal to) a larger segment of today’s consumer groups.
As LGBTQ communities and activism efforts expand, brand managers should consider how these changes affect your target audiences and how inclusive messages might fit into future PR and marketing efforts.
Regardless of how you feel about corporate participation during gay Pride, this is a huge symbolic step forward. Advocates for the trans community have long complained that gay and lesbian people dominate the LGBTQ movement.
Recognizing the trans community as a separate — though equally sneaker-worthy community — is emblematic of a larger cultural shift.
What do you think of Converse’s pride collection and the online conversation surrounding it, PR Daily readers?