Amid last week’s flurry of rainbow flag Instagram posts in celebration of global Pride Day festivities, users may have noticed another ubiquitous emblem on their social media accounts.
Celebrities and fashion icons alike were seen wearing crisp white T-shirts emblazoned with a rainbow “Be” across the front, part of the “Be Proud” effort led by Baja East, an emerging New York-based fashion brand. All proceeds from the shirts — which retail at $95 and have been worn by Miley Cryus, Leandra Medine, Willow Smith and Haim — go directly to Equality Florida’s Pulse Victims Fund. The hashtag #bajaeast has been tagged on Instagram more than 4,600 times to date, and the official Baja East page has continued to share posts of notable figures wearing the shirts to its more than 24.5 thousand followers.
THANK YOU FOR STANDING w/ us @tarajiphenson!!! 🙌🏽❤️🌈✌🏽️#BEproud [all proceeds from this tee to benefit Equality Florida for the Pulse Victims Fund – link in profile to purchase] #bajaeast #tarajiphenson
Baja East was a finalist in the Council of Fashion Designers of America Vogue Fashion Fund initiative in fall 2015, a collaborative program designed to support burgeoning fashion designers. CFDA president Steven Kolb showed his support for the “Be Proud” effort, posting a photo to Instagram from the organization’s official account on Saturday wearing the shirt and linking to the company in the caption.
It’s me, @stevenkolb taking over the #CFDA channels for #pridefest, wearing @bajaeast. #StayTuned
A photo posted by cfda (@cfda) on
Baja East first launched its “Be” logo during its fall 2015 campaign, and saw the brand’s initials as a natural jumping point for “Be Proud.” Founders Scott Studenberg and John Targon, both openly gay, said that as members of the LGBT community they felt could make a meaningful statement with the shirts regarding the effect of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
“We were obviously very impacted by the events that happened that night, and the fact that it could be any night out for us,” Targon said.
Targon noted that Baja East had widespread support throughout the entire process, from conceptualization to printing and sales. Though the shirts launched just last week, the manufacturer, Rule, Inc., was so receptive to helping with the shirts that they lowered their costs and gave a portion of their printing fees as a donation to the effort
“It became an idea of how we can help support our community, along with all of our straight allies and all these people around us that touch our lives, that actually help spread the word and drive support,” Targon said.
While they were unable to share total proceeds at this time, they said they plan to continue selling the shirts until they sell out and may embark upon a second round of printing.