With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, set to begin in less than 10 weeks, Los Angeles-based American Apparel has partnered with organizations Athlete Ally and All Out on a clothing line to benefit LGBT advocacy groups in Russia.
Available starting Monday via American Apparel’s website, the collection includes a fleece zip-front hoodie ($55), a T-shirt ($23), a scoop-neck Spandex crop top ($35) and a pair of briefs ($22), all in red with white screen-printing that reads “Principle 6.” Some pieces, including the T-shirt, carry this statement in all capital letters: “Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.”
That’s a call-out to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism as described in the Olympic charter, the sixth principle of which states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
It’s also a very pointed effort to draw attention to legislation recently enacted by Russia that threatens prosecution of anyone who spreads "propaganda" of "nontraditional" relationships in the presence of minors -- which critics say effectively bans parades and other public displays of support for gay rights.
“The Principle 6 campaign allows athletes and fans to support LGBT equality leading up to and during the Sochi Olympics without fear of arrest under Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws or penalty under the Olympic ban on political speech,” Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, said in Monday's announcement. That group, a nonprofit working to end homophobia and transphobia in sports, is one of two organizations joining forces with American Apparel on the campaign. The other group is All Out, which aims to leverage the power of social media to help “build a world where no person will have to sacrifice family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or whom they love.”
Monday's announcement says that some 34 athletes, including Olympians and professionals, have signed on to the Principle 6 campaign. Sochi-bound athletes on board include snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, speed skater Blake Skjellerup and skier Mike Janyk, and the extensive list of professionals includes the Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash, tennis players Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick and James Blake, and NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo, Scott Fujita, Chris Kluwe and Donté Stallworth.
According to the announcement, proceeds from sales of clothing line “will directly support the Principle 6 campaign and [go] directly to lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) advocacy groups in Russia fighting discrimination and anti-gay laws.”
A spokesman for the Principle 6 apparel effort tells us that more pieces will be added to the collection over the next few weeks including duffle bags, beanies, jersey scarves and a children’s T-shirt. Distribution is also slated to expand into bricks-and-mortar America Apparel stores internationally as of Jan. 1.