ASOS have recently teamed up with LGBTQ+ youth charity, Exist Loudly to launch a limited-edition collection through their exclusive COLLUSION brand. This is the first global brand partnership for Exist Loudly, which was founded by Tanya Compas. As a youth worker, content creator and champion of queer, Black communities, Tanya wanted to create an organisation that nurtures LGBTQ+ youth, equipping them with the tools to build steady career foundations and express creativity without inhibition. In an article she wrote for ASOS, Tanya says: “We are committed to creating spaces of joy, community and care for Black LGBTQ+ youths through creative intervention, self-expression and digital storytelling. To ‘exist loudly’ is to exist as yourself, however that may be.”
It’s a match made in heaven for COLLUSION, which has been promoting individuality in fashion since its inception in 2018. Unisex garms have long been a COLLUSION staple and this latest collection, set to drop at the end of this month, takes their celebration of non-binary bodies, fluid gender expression and all-encompassing inclusivity to the next level. The designs elevate some of COLLUSION’s best-selling, comfy-casj looks with bold tones and experimental prints. It also heavily features the colours of the Progressive Pride flag; a reimagined Pride flag that honours underrepresented LGBTQ+ groups, such as intersex and transgender communities and marginalised queer people of colour.
That being said, the significance of this campaign goes beyond symbols, slogans and the face-value gestures that have become Pride-month common practice in most industries; COLLUSION gave Exist Loudly complete creative control, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, and the result is entirely beautiful.
The visuals were shot by self-taught photographer and self-professed ‘soul capturer’ Shinghi Rice. They star Tanya and seven young, Black, queer creatives, Cash, Moses, Tanaka, Amira, Tamika, Shay and Anairin. Though far from your typical ASOS models, everyone is serving face, slick dance moves and serious swag to a backdrop of powerful spoken word, written by Tanaka and voiced by the collective. The concept is inspired by Cash’s love of freestyle movement and each frame oozes glee, vibrance and triumph, for what bigger win is there for the invisible than to take centre stage at last? The line, ‘Who would have thought that we could be living the dream?” closes out the video and encapsulates the true value of the campaign; that LGBTQ+ kids of colour can finally see their nonconformity validated by a retailer as mainstream as ASOS.
On top of the representation and the exposure, ASOS will also be donating £38,000 to Exist Loudly, on behalf of COLLUSION. The funds will allow Exist Loudly to set up their first-ever long-term programme- a huge milestone for the charity which was only founded last year. According to Tanya, the programme will help Black LGBTQ+ young people who are unemployed and not in education or training to “explore different creative mediums”, while building employability skills and cultivating networks of friends and mentors.
Other brands should take note, this campaign and financial partnership are proof that it’s possible for a corporation to celebrate Pride with integrity and that it pays for LGBTQ+ organisations to be selective with their collaborations. “ I’ve had enough of seeing pride campaigns centred around educating cis-heterosexual people around the very basics of the LGBTQ+ community.” says Tanya. “They feature us, our voices and our faces, but the campaigns are not made to celebrate LGBTQ+ people and are rarely made by us. Therefore, I’ve become hyper-cautious of how brands try to use myself and Exist Loudly over Pride season. I refuse to allow us to become a badge for them to wear and throw away once it’s over…But our partnership with COLLUSION felt right. They sat back, listened and gave us the resources necessary to do what we do best. We ended up with not only the beautiful visuals and content from the shoot itself, but a commitment from ASOS and COLLUSION to support Exist Loudly and our community beyond this campaign.”