Pride Month has just wrapped up. It’s the perfect time to remember that in the Wildling Community, we celebrate diversity every day – all year long.
Every year during Pride Month in June, millions of people around the world celebrate and demonstrate to promote visibility and equality for the queer community. A brief look back at the history: The foundation for the modern LGBTQIA+- civil rights movement was laid in New York on June 28, 1969, and more specifically at the Stonewall Inn, the city’s largest queer club on Christopher Street, where police repeatedly conducted violent raids. On the night of June 28, the club’s queer patrons fought back and made a stand against the police – that was the inception of a public uprising on the part of the queer and particularly the trans* community, which has since been commemorated annually during Christopher Street Day and Pride Month.
What do the Stonewall Riots have to do with Wildling?
An equitable society in which all people can live and develop safely and freely is an issue that concerns every one of us. And as a business, we believe that we have the added responsibility of making the most of the opportunities available to us. Part of Wildling’s mission as an organization is to create an inclusive, feminist, anti-racist space – for diversity, equity, reconciliation, and fair, meaningful work.
Our society is amazingly diverse, which is why we also consciously strive to achieve diversity in the fox’s den by accommodating a range of life circumstances – both when we fill vacant positions and within the existing team. We make sure that everyone feels welcome and, most importantly, is viewed in light of their own unique strengths and abilities – regardless of age, gender identity, origin, sexual orientation, and other factors used as a basis for structural discrimination against people by society.
Learning together – from each other and about each other
To accomplish our mission, we are constantly learning more and more together, as individuals and as a company. For example, in our in-house Diversity working group, at a number of short and more extensive workshops, and at the “Coffee for Diversity” event, where the team regularly discusses a wide variety of topics ranging from gender-sensitive language to colonialism. By sharing and listening to one another, we learn – about each other and from each other – to understand the different levels of direct and structural discrimination, the prejudices that shape our everyday lives, and how we can respond sensitively to our different life experiences.
Image: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel
Statements for diversity
For those who aren’t familiar with this model yet, our Basic Collection features the ever-popular Tanuki Niji with its little rainbow flag: a great way to show your true colors. The idea behind this was conceived during Pride Month 2019 and comes from Community member Ulrike. There’s also an article covering the whole story behind the Rainbow Tanuki.
Wildlings are gender neutral – with wholehearted conviction: Because feet are as diverse as our preferences, but neither one has anything to do with gender. The only thing that matters is being able to develop and flourish – that’s what toes and people have in common.
Yet another important Wildling value: We speak up and we aren’t afraid to take a clear stance. On that note:
Image: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel | Tape Art: Tape That (Adrian Dittert & Stephan Meissner)
Spread the word!
To generate visibility for the cause even beyond Pride Month, we got in touch with the TAPE THAT artists’ collective and designed a colorful work of art for the Berlin showroom. It had to include the colors of the rainbow flag and, at the same time, make us think of Wildling (did anyone recognize the sole of his shoe?). We captured the creation process in a video. And we couldn’t be more delighted with the result. Adrian and Stephan from Tape That did more than tape (and admittedly sweat quite a bit, too, since it got really hot just in time for the scheduled installation day), they also told us a bit about why the idea of this message speaks to their hearts, too: “Creating visibility for the queer community is important to us because the world continues to witness a great deal of prejudice, restriction, and injustice against the queer population. For us as artists, freedom is essential not only in terms of artistic freedom. Overall, it is one of the most fundamental values of a modern society – this includes freedom of sexual orientation!” they summarize.
The shop windows as well as the showroom interiors will continue to serve as a stage for very diverse artists and creators to be seen and to display their art. So there will be plenty of excitement with new things to discover all the time.
In addition to the temporary installation in the shop window, there has also been a permanent upgrade of the showrooms in Berlin, Cologne, and the warehouse store in Engelskirchen. The flag at the entrance is designed to send a clear message that Wildling Shoes is a safe, non-discriminatory, and appreciative space in every one of its locations. Because movement doesn’t stop at our feet.
Image: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel
What does the expanded rainbow flag stand for?
The rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 – as a positive symbol for the queer community. In 2017 it was expanded by Daniel Quasar: The wedge of light blue, pink, and white for the trans* community (designed by Monica Helmes in 1999) and brown and black for the BIPoC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community is meant to signify that there’s still some progress to be made. The black stripe also represents all those who live with or have died from AIDS, and the stigma that is associated with the syndrome. In 2021, Valentino Vecchietti updated the so-called Progress flag once again to include the purple circle on a yellow background: the Inter* flag designed by Morgan Carpenter in 2013, symbolizing the Inter* movement and people’s right to bodily and genital integrity.
Image: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel
Standing up for each other, taking a stand
To make sure that all aspects of diversity within our society remain top of mind beyond Pride Month along with the fight for equal rights, it’s important that we stick together and stand up for each other. As an example, those who do not suffer from a particular form of social discrimination themselves can stand in solidarity with those who are discriminated against – as allies.
We are many! Let’s fly the flag together, take a clear stand – and celebrate the abundance that emerges from our diversity.
Let’s make diversity last longer than Pride season!
Titelfoto: Wildling Shoes/Nora Tabel