Words: Joseph Kocharian
Polo Ralph Lauren have enlisted seven queer figures from the world of sport, arts and activism for their brand new Pride capsule collection.
Shot by Cass Bird, the campaign includes photographer and model Jacob Bixenman, Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy, ballet dancer Harper Watters and actress Josie Totah, and Hetrick-Martin Institute affiliates Evrisha, Tyriq and Cory.
The five-piece gender neutral collection for both adults and children celebrates individuality and inclusion. RL has partnered with The Stonewall Community Foundation and will donate a percentage of the purchase price to benefit LGBTQIA+ organisations around the world.
Ralph Lauren as a business and also through their foundation, The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation have a long-standing history of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Supporting through volunteering, corporate initiatives and financial grants. Their past partners have included the likes of the Hetrick-Martin Institute (affiliates Evrisha, Tyriq and Cory are all also in the campaign) amfAR, AIDS Walk New York, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation as well as standing with the United Nations global standards for business protecting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.
We sat down with Jacob Bixenman to chat about why it’s important for big fashion brands like Ralph Lauren to be vocal about their support of the LGBTQ+ community and how social media affects his personal and proffesional life.
In today’s current political climate, how important it is it that we continue to celebrate Pride?
Super. Being queer can feel scary and weird, and Pride has a way of allowing people to be understood and celebrated in a way that they might not otherwise feel in their lives. I think that can be very healing for people, especially when there are political and ideological tug-of-wars happening over something as personal as sexual preference and gender identity.
What’s your best Pride memory?
I was in Australia a few years ago for Mardi Gras, which is their version of Pride, and it was humongous. I’d never seen anything like that, which was cool.
How did the collaboration with Ralph Lauren come about?
The brand reached out about the campaign and let me know of their initiative to donate 100% of purchase-price proceeds to the Stonewall Community Foundation, which impressed and excited me. We talked about the project and I came on to both be in the campaign and shoot some behind-the-scenes.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Definitely the pieces that they had customized with my name on them for the shoot. That made me feel like a baller.
How important is it for global brands such as Ralph Lauren to show support for the LGBTQ+ community?
I think that brands showing up for the LGBTQ+ community in meaningful ways is great. Especially those with the sort of stature and universal recognition that Ralph Lauren has, considering they have the potential to reach those who wouldn’t otherwise consume LGBTQ and Pride messaging. I think RL has set a great example for other brands with this campaign and their honest commitment to the cause.
You and your partner Troye Sivan both have huge social media followings. Do you feel pressure to be an LGBTQ+ role model?
I think less about fulfilling any kind of role-model position and more about making sure that I’m authentic online about who I am and how I see the world. LGBTQ+ issues naturally are important to me, both out of passion and necessity, but finding the balance between sharing myself online and being present in my life is my personal issue. The internet is amazing. But crazy.
The Polo Ralph Lauren Pride Capsule collection will be available in select stores worldwide. ralphlauren.co.uk