Pride comes but once a year. And this year, more than ever before, has seen a slew of rainbow-themed collections – some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. But a stylish printed T-shirt doesn’t need to be just for one day. Invest right, and you’ll be wearing it long after you’ve found a way to wash the glitter out of your hair.
As a proud supporter of fresh talent, and with more than a few epic collaborations in the bag already – Charley Casely-Hayford, James Bay and Nasir Mazhar to name a few – menswear pioneer Topman has hooked up with London designer Charles Jeffrey and his Loverboy brand for a brilliant and charitable collection.
Having mastered illustration, fashion design and even throwing club nights, the Central Saint Martins graduate has now taken on the role of curator. With the aim of showcasing LGBTQI+ talent, Charles Jeffrey commissioned five emerging artists from across the globe to design a T-shirt that highlights equality milestones.
“Our community is alive with really vital talent, and in pulling together this project I wanted to spotlight some of the image-makers I think deserve to be seen,” he says.
The collection has the dual purpose of being both a big thank you to activists that have come before and a way of raising awareness. As well as the print on the front, the back of each T-shirt calls attention to a piece of right-enshrining legislation.
Available in selected Topman stores across the UK and online at Topman.com, 30 per cent of all profits from the unisex collection are being donated to Diversity Role Models, a charity that works to end homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
Need more convincing? Take a closer look at each of the designs below and then snap up a T-shirt to be proud of year-round.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy Intimacy T-Shirt
Fashion illustrator James Spencer’s work generally features male nudes, so it’s apt that he was commissioned to highlight the right to intimacy. Revisiting one of his older pieces, the print on his slick black T-shirts shows two men embracing, highlighting the long-time-coming decriminalisation of same-sex relationships.
“It’s tremendously important to express one’s affection for someone,” says Spencer. “I think it’s more intimacy in a public sense, on display, which is what the right is.”
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy Adoption T-Shirt
On a gen-z yellow background, this T-shirt highlights the Adoption and Children Act of 2002, which dropped the requirement for prospective adoptive parents to be married, and in turn allowed lesbian and gay couples to adopt.
For his design, French textile designer and illustrator Alex Gutapfel has depicted a riot of stalks, plants and babies being cared for. “It’s a big web full of different narratives and stories,” he says. “I also liked the idea of plants being watered and cared for, and children being brought not to life, but the amazing people they become through love.”
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy Military T-Shirt
Artist and graphic designer Frances Wilks was charged with creating a T-shirt that celebrated the lifting of the ban on LGBT people in the military, which she did with her bold ‘Trooping The Colour’ design.
“I decided to celebrate those more positive aspects that people are capable of achieving if they are given the chance,” says Wilks. “I painted all the medals that signify bravery, achievement and commandment for my piece.”
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy Marriage T-Shirt
On a background of red (which represents courage on the Pride flag), Portland-based illustrator Steph Linn celebrates the passing of the Marriage Act of 2013, which enshrined the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.
As Linn herself says, “It’s important because it solidifies that fact that queer people have the same right as straight people do. It’s important as well because there’s a lot of legal rights that come with marriage that queer people didn’t have. It’s important to have the right to choose as well, whether you want to or not.”
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy Recognition T-Shirt
It fell to figurative painter Ryan Driscoll to celebrate the Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which gave people with gender dysphoria legal recognition as members of the sex that they identify as. Taking classical imagery of Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty, love and fertility, he reimagined her in a genderless state.
“Venus is the god of beauty and love, and I thought that can’t be personified in one gender,” he says. “The development of the work was just using a lot of watercolour, but being an oil painter by trade, I wanted to mimic that.”
Shop the full Topman Pride collection in select stores and online at topman.com now.