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Adidas faces boycott over male model in swimsuit campaign

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Adidas Pride swimsuit

Adidas has found itself facing criticism due to a swimsuit featured on its e-commerce website, worn by a male model. The swimsuit in question is part of the Adidas x Rich Mnisi Pride Collection, which the company describes as a celebration of self-expression and a partnership aimed at honoring the LGBTQIA+ community, in collaboration with their Global Purpose partner, Athlete Ally.

According to Helen Joyce, Director of Advocacy at Sex Matters, an organisation advocating for the recognition of the significance of sex in rules, laws, policies, language, and culture, this move by Adidas is seen as an attempt to "garner attention by capitalising on the transgender movement". As cited in the The Times, Adidas risks "alienating its core customer base in exchange for fleeting publicity."

Adidas' description of the swimsuit states it represents the message of inclusivity and love, emphasising the unique yet interconnected nature of individuals. The company says the swimsuit, designed in collaboration with Rich Mnisi, exudes vibrant energy and brings joy to one's beach experience.

Image: Adidas Pride swimsuit

In the realm of fashion, where gender neutral designs and the deconstruction of traditional masculine and feminine tropes have garnered long standing acceptance, the sight of a man donning a bathing suit, a garment typically associated with women, has provoked a degree of unease among certain individuals.

The liberty of self-expression and personal style should never be under question, yet when a sportswear giant like Adidas or Nike politicise their campaigns the reverberations can be felt far and wide. Thankfully Adidas has ignored the humdrum of a boycott, with both the swimsuit and original images still up on its website.

This article has been edited from the originally published version by removing transphobic quotes made by individuals in order to avoid providing that kind of speech a platform. This change was made 22/5/2023.