Adidas sent shockwaves through the fashion world this week with the introduction of their highly anticipated “Pride 2023” swimwear collection. However, the brand’s marketing strategy took an unexpected turn as they featured a male model in the women’s section of their online store.
Drawing attention from eager customers, the male model confidently showcased a vibrant one-piece swimsuit named the “Pride Swimsuit,” which was priced at $70. The attention-grabbing aspect was an apparent bulge in the crotch area, leaving onlookers puzzled about the intended target audience.
In a visually captivating video on Adidas’ website, the model flaunted the one-piece while strutting around, with the camera deliberately zooming in to reveal a glimpse of chest hair peeping over the neckline. The gender identity of the model remained a mystery, leaving viewers curious and prompting a flurry of speculations.
Despite numerous inquiries, Adidas and designer Rich Mnisi, the creative force behind the collection titled “Let Love Be Your Legacy,” remained tight-lipped, failing to address the growing controversy surrounding the campaign.
Adidas stated that the collection served as a celebration of self-expression, imagination, and the unifying power of love, as detailed on their website. They highlighted that the pieces were inspired by a heartfelt letter Mnisi penned to his younger self, intended as a rallying cry for active allyship and empowerment of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The situation took a dramatic turn when internet personality Oli London took to Twitter, sharing screenshots from Adidas’ site under the headline “The new Adidas Women’s Swimwear Range modeled by…men.” Within hours, the tweet amassed over 1.1 million views, with a plethora of users criticizing Adidas for what they deemed excessive “wokeness.”
Riley Gaines, a former NCAA swimmer and vocal advocate for women’s rights, joined the conversation, highlighting that women’s swimsuits typically lack any bulge. She expressed her bewilderment at businesses willingly subjecting themselves to such controversies, suggesting that labeling the swimsuit as “unisex” would have been a more inclusive approach.
Twitter users chimed in, voicing their concerns about the design and intended audience for the swimsuit. Some proposed that Adidas should offer it within an LGBT-specific category rather than marketing it solely to women. Curiously, the collection featured various items categorized as “women’s,” yet modeled predominantly by men. A model resembling a woman was only presented showcasing larger sizes.
Speculation arose that Adidas might be hesitant to feature large trans models or skinny female models, provoking further scrutiny of the brand’s inclusive practices. The phrase “Go woke, go broke,” which gained prominence following previous controversial brand partnerships, including Bud Light and Nike’s collaborations with trans social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, resurfaced as users expressed concerns over potential financial repercussions.
Ironically, Mulvaney recently signed a sponsorship deal with Adidas competitor Nike, triumphantly announcing the collaboration on Instagram, heralding her “workout era.” The subsequent backlash against Nike fueled the viral “Burn Bra Challenge” on TikTok, adding fuel to the ongoing conversation.
As discontented voices grew louder on social media, users lamented a diminishing pool of brands to support. A declaration emerged, with some vowing never to shop at Adidas again, while others sought out alternative brands that aligned more closely with their values of women’s empowerment and respect.
Amidst the fervor, the fashion world eagerly awaits Adidas’ response and potential future actions to address the concerns raised by consumers, advocates, and industry insiders alike.