Celebrating Pride through fashion and creative personal expression
Every June, brands from different fields embrace the spirit of Pride not just by putting a rainbow flag on their storefront but also by producing offerings in its honor. This movement includes the fashion industry. While many can see this as strategic marketing, a form of rainbow capitalism, the LGBTQIA+ Community knows which brands to embrace based on their track record. Some brands have been long supporters of the queerfolks, others put part of their sales to charities helping the community.
While shopping pieces to build their Pride wardrobe is something many LGBTQIA+ individuals would want to do, nothing beats designing their own looks to celebrate the month, especially, for the annual Pride March. Queerfolks are creatives and one of the best avenues they can express themselves well is through their personalized clothing, taking simple pieces and turning them into something original and true to their narrative.
That fashion tradition is echoed in an event led by customer experience and business process solutions company, Telus International Philippines (TIP). For years, the company has built strong participation in multiple Pride Month parades and in-person and virtual events and activities, making its workplace not just imbued with inclusive culture but a safe space for LGBTQIA+ individuals. This time, its Pride celebration is centered on self-expression, enabling the community to celebrate their authentic selves through a Design Your Own Pride Jacket activity and fashion show.
“Coming together to celebrate Pride Month has become an annual tradition for TIP,” said Warren Tait, global vice president of brand, marketing, culture, and facilities at Telus International. “This year, one of the ways we wanted to share our fun and diverse culture is through a highly engaging event that’s focused on expressing oneself through fashion and finding pride in one’s style.”
To make it possible, the company partnered with SoFA Design Institute, one of the leading fashion schools in the Philippines, with fashion designer and design instructor Fred Telarma leading the activity. It calls to customize a denim trucker jacket into something that represents you. It sounds pretty simple with all the Pride-themed clothing patches, pins, buttons, and other embellishments provided and Fred’s easy design tips. But instead of just randomly gluing and sewing things on the jacket, Fred asked us, the participants, to create a story centering on our individuality.
“Pride Month to me is about expressing and celebrating your authentic self in any way you want,” Fred said. “I believe that fashion can be a powerful tool for self-expression. Fashion is performance art, which allows us to produce clothing that speaks and walks with a message—conveying a story at every turn.”
As someone who appreciates fashion on the runway seats and by looking at the magazine images, customizing a denim jacket seems like a challenge, especially with a timeframe. Yes, we’re taking it to that serious level. But the process proved to be somewhat therapeutic/ it is nice to create something that truly reflects you, not just on the facade but also on the story behind the design. It’s like having a glimpse of what it is like studying at SOFA and experiencing its SOFA Method, the school’s unique approach to design education.
This activity also mirrors TIP’s dedication to making a workplace that champions “diversity, inclusion, and belonging, ensuring all our team members feel supported and valued.” “Since 2014, our team member resource group, Spectrum Philippines, has provided our team members from the LGBTQIA+ community a platform for making the workplace culture more accepting, and the benefits and facilities more inclusive,” Tait said.
Spectrum Philippines has become a venue for a healthy exchange of ideas and open conversations that enables TIP team members to share their experiences in a safe and comfortable environment. It continues to embrace diversity programs and guarantees that the unique needs of the LGBTQIA+ community are considered and represented in workplace programs.
“TIP and Spectrum have always strived to encourage members of the LGBTQIA+ community to feel confident in themselves,” said Shey Cruz, TIP team member and Spectrum co-chair. “We create safe spaces which amplify the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community members in society, ensuring all their concerns and unique needs are addressed. We also support them by providing a multitude of opportunities for expressing their true selves and pursuing their passions, including our year-long diversity and inclusion programs.”
Apart from the design activity, the company is also hosting multiple events to celebrate Pride including the second run of their “Ready, Set, Drag” intersite contest, a fundraising activity to support the Love Yourself Foundation, and Ted Talks-style sessions about LGBTQIA+ excellence and leadership.