The rainbow has long been a symbol of pride, but for EQ3 designer Elis Wautier and Apple art director Isabel Castillo, it’s not the only one. “It’s pretty clear to Elis and myself that, being part of the queer community, we don’t really need a rainbow to identify ourselves,” says Castillo. “We live in pride all year round.”
The pair collaborated to create EQ3’s new Pride tote bag, which sports a monochrome design instead of the rainbow. “This was more about creating an item that symbolized pride you could wear any day,” says Castillo. “We wanted to focus on the messaging, which is why it is black and white,” adds Wautier.
EQ3's Pride tote modeled by co-designer Elis Wautier.
The black and white bag is also meant to reject the corporate embrace of pride. Despite its activist roots, the rainbow has become adopted by corporate culture during Pride—Castillo pointed out how queer folks everywhere notice when companies turn their logos rainbow for the month of June, then change back on July 1—often with little concrete action taken for the queer community. It's called rainbow washing, and it’s everywhere: this Medium article notes that LGBT consumers are worth upwards of $1 trillion dollars, and many businesses are eager to cash in. Turning a logo rainbow “in solidarity” isn’t necessarily a commitment to change.
Isabel Castillo, Apple art director and co-designer of the tote.
This tote isn’t rainbow-washed (both literally and figuratively). EQ3 is donating 100% of the profits to local LGBTQ+ organizations, and has also donated to Queer Design Club as part of the collab. Western Canadian stores are donating to Skipping Stone (Calgary) and Covenant House (Vancouver).
Straying away from the colourful norm also allowed Castillo and Wautier more freedom—which is really what pride is all about. “We got to basically encompass what our experience being queer is into the bag,” says Wautier. He explains that the design itself was born from conversations that he and Castillo had about what pride means to them.
On the front, the bag says “PROUD” in a unique, flowing text. “We wanted all the typography to be very fun—the best way I can describe it is queer-looking,” says Wautier. On the back are two messages: Radical lovers forever and Queer is freedom. “Being radically queer means being radically free, because you are free to be who you want to be,” says Castillo.
“We wanted to focus on the messaging—to be impactful and straightforward and not apologetic,” says Wautier.
EQ3’s Pride tote bag will be available in all showrooms starting June 1.