The LGBTQIA+ Experience of Retail Brands and Spaces
Reading time: 2.5 minutes
In our pursuit of a better understanding of inclusive retail environments and brands, we reached out to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our aim was to gain insight into their unique experience of retail environments, and to understand whether brands were adequately meeting their needs.
Navigating Retail Spaces
Georgie, a 39-year-old influencer and presenter from Channel 4's Unique Boutique, shared their experiences as a trans, non-binary individual. Georgie's encounters with in-store shopping have often led to feelings of alienation. They recounted instances where they felt judged, stating, "People look at you like they think you're in the wrong space…they give you a look that makes you feel like they're questioning whether you belong in that space"
Georgie opts for online shopping where possible. They described their coping strategy when forced to shop in-store as a "Braveheart moment", blocking out others' opinions and confidently pursuing their shopping needs as quickly as possible.
Georgie stressed the significance of staff training in creating a welcoming store environment. They emphasised the discomfort of interacting with individuals who lack understanding and recognition. However, Georgie also pointed out that brands investing in bias training create a more inclusive atmosphere, recounting experiences with the brands that made them feel valued and human, empowering them to shop freely.
David, 50 and queer identifying believes store layouts and navigation have a way to go before catering to all body types, “Zara has the skinniest elevators and the skinniest escalators that I’ve ever come across”.
Genderless Shopping Spaces
Asked about their dream retail space, Georgie imagines a genderless shopping experience "in retail spaces where they've removed gender as a barrier and an accessibility aspect; it's just so freeing”.
H, a 25-year-old queer individual, questioned the necessity of gendered changing rooms "It's a box with a mirror and a curtain... I don't understand why it has to be gendered." H hopes for a future where brands address customers without gender assumptions.
“in retail spaces where they've removed gender as a barrier and an accessibility aspect; it's just so freeing.”
Georgie / Triple Minor - Influencer & TV Presenter
Breaking Binary Norms
Gen Z Az, 25, influencer and trans rights campaigner, critiqued the lack of representation within brand campaigns and stores. He emphasised the need to deconstruct the binary shopping experience. Az celebrated online retailer Both, who cater to the trans masculine and non-binary gender queer community, for their "euphoria-inducing" inclusivity.
Support for the Community
Az highlighted the importance of brands adapting to the community's needs to foster inclusivity. They stressed that true inclusivity extended beyond physical spaces to encompass broader support for the community.
“let’s reconsider the people in the ad campaigns and have mannequins that don’t just address ableism, but a space that works for all bodies too”
David Hawkins - Stylist and TV Presenter
Holly, identifying as queer, celebrated brands like Selfridges and Flannels for authentic inclusion efforts. "Selfridges State of the Arts campaign, giving window space to queer artists…I would change my route to walk past there, which is unusual for a retail space, and Flannels digital takeover. Those two brands are doing a really good job for LGBTQIA+ representation."
David emphasises the joy in seeing real representation and retail spaces designed with consideration for everyone regardless of ableism or gender identity. “The best thing is seeing myself represented. Maybe 1% of us look like the people in the advertising campaigns…let’s reconsider the people in the ad campaigns and have mannequins that don’t just address ableism, but a space that works for all bodies too.”
01) Staff bias training can create a more welcoming environment.
02) Store layouts should cater to diverse body types.
03) Genderless shopping spaces and fitting rooms are desirable.
04) Staff should address customers without gender assumptions.
05) Real representation in campaigns and store displays is key to deconstructing the binary shopping experience.
06) Authentic inclusion efforts, such as featuring LGBTQIA+ artists and icons, are celebrated.