Cult streetwear brand Champion recently dropped an Australian-first Pride range, Champions Of Pride.
The range comes hand-in-hand with a partnership with the Queer Sporting Alliance (QSA), and is proudly inspired by the colours of Pride in a selection of Champion tees, reverse weave hoodies, bucket hats, caps, and socks.
One hundred per cent of the profits from three Pride patches in the range will go directly to the Queer Sporting Alliance. Customers are also invited to make a donation to the QSA online or in-store.
Five of Australia and New Zealand's creative industry artists bring the collection to life in the campaign imagery, each representing inclusivity, solidarity, identity and advocacy within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Each of the artists is also championing a word through the campaign – a word which, to them, reflects their journey and represents pride. Artists include Frances Cannon, Joseph Althouse, DJ/producer Sullivan, musician Jesswar and dancer Elvis Lopeti.
Here, we have a chat with contributing artist Joseph Althouse about his involvement in the campaign. Joseph's chosen word is 'dream'. How did you get involved with this collaboration?
The queer network secured this opportunity for me. I was put forward by a friend @girlwhereyouat on Instagram, who was contacted by another friend seeking out a deadly Blackfella to be involved in the Champion Pride campaign. I am very grateful to them for their recommendation and to be given the opportunity to collaborate with Champion and Sissy Screens on this mammoth campaign.
What does it mean to you personally?
To be proud of my queerness is to step into myself wholly and without judgement. I am so proud to be Blak and queer and to bring those two aspects of my identity to the forefront and to share my experiences. We don’t come by too many examples of Blak queerness in media, and so I am honoured to take up that space to show other young Blackfellas that it’s okay to be both Blak and queer and that we have a space in this society that is sovereign and sacred. Can you tell us a little bit about the campaign itself?
The Pride campaign with Champion: Champions Of Pride, is about expressing yourself without fear of persecution. We are so lucky to live in a free democracy and to have access to so many ideas. This campaign is about showing love to our queer family and loving ourselves and cherishing one another. Everyone involved in the campaign was an artist from a different discipline, and to have that contact with one another to yarn and share stories was such a gift. It is about reflecting on our past to inform and look to our future. Champion makes us all feel comfy and cool and queer kids deserve that feeling.
Who are the other people modelling the collection?
Sullivan, who is a deadly DJ. Frances Cannon, who is an amazing artist. Jesswar, the deadliest rapper coming up. Elvis Lopeti, a brother from Aotearoa who moves like Michael Jackson. And as a special treat, Hannah Bronte who is Jesswar’s partner and is an amazing Blak artist based in Queensland, was also involved with a little cameo. Why do you think it’s important for brands like Champion to join the Pride movement?
Because queer people interact with so many brands and line the pockets of so many companies. It is important for them to bring our ideas with them and share our stories. We are part of the success of so many brands and to be recognised is such a joy. Your chosen word for the campaign, representing Pride, is ‘dream’. Care to elaborate?
The dreaming is obviously such a potent Blak idea. It’s is the cosmic force that interconnects all natural things. It is important for me to add to that rhetoric and the legacy of Blak Australia, and I thought ‘dreams’ was an apt word for me and my lived experiences. Coming from a low socio-economic environment, my dreams were the only thing I felt like I had. My imagination was used as a survival tool in my childhood and I have clung onto them in my adulthood. Dreaming makes me feel safe and it allows me to create a pathway to the future.
Which of the other words chosen by the other talent do you most identify with/relate to, and why?
Self-love, Jesswar’s word, is really important to me. I have been watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ since I was 13 and have heard Mama Ru say, “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?” for so many years. So I’m very clued into that idea but I’m always inspired by people contextualising it for themselves. I thought Jess’s clip was so beautiful and powerful and it reminded me how important and powerful it is to truly love yourself. Tell us a bit about you as an artist.
I’m an actor by trade. I was fortunate enough to study a Bachelor degree in fine art at the ripe age of 18. So to have that formal training is such a gift for me. My passion is theatre, being in a space with an audience and sharing in a story together is the most special thing to me. I also am exploring painting more these days. Which is proving to be very helpful during lockdown, with theatres being closed. I look forward to getting back into the theatre soon.
What’s in the pipeline in the way of your creative work?
I am looking forward to creating more artworks for friends and family to fill their homes with. I am also looking forward to touring a show I did at the start of 2020 (pre-COVID), 'Black Cockatoo'. We are doing a regional tour with Ensemble Theatre of Black Cockatoo. I am so keen to see the Country and to share this story of the first Australian international cricket team, a team filled with wonderfully talented Aboriginal sportsmen. They toured London in the 1880s and it’s such a special slice of Australian history that I am grateful I get to share with audiences. The Champion Pride range is available now. This story originally appeared on our sister site, FROOTY.