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H&M recruits gay rugby team and Caitlyn Jenner for new sportswear campaign

H&M recruits gay rugby team and Caitlyn Jenner for new sportswear campaign

Caitlyn Jenner features in the new H&M campaign

Caitlyn Jenner is one of the faces to feature in a new sportswear campaign from Swedish clothing giant H&M.

The ‘For Every Victory’ campaign comes just a couple of weeks before the Olympics kick off in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

H&M has recruited the transgender, Olympic medal winner to front the campaign launch. Jenner won gold in the Decathlon in 1976 in Montreal.

In a statement about the campaign, H&M says it ‘celebrates the power of sport and self-belief to transform people’s lives.’

Narrating a montage of footage, which includes a diverse range of sports people, Jenner – wearing items from the H&M sportswear range – talks about the challenges she has faced in living her true gender identity:

‘I felt like I couldn’t do it alone, or with the entire world watching my every step.

‘I fought to belong, and for my right to be different. I felt trapped by my body and by what others expected of me.

‘I had to find strength within me that I didn’t know I had. I questioned whether it was really worth it, nothing came easy. But nothing truly important ever does. To keep going no matter what the obstacles is, is what victory looks like. Whether you are representing your country, or yourself.’

Talking about her involvement with the campaign, Jenner said in a statement, ‘I truly believe in the power of sports to bring positive change to people’s lives. This is why I’m so proud to be part of the For Every Victory campaign, because it reminds me of the strength and bravery of people around the world to be their authentic selves and overcome any obstacles that may come their way.’

The Kings Cross Steelers rugby team
The Kings Cross Steelers rugby team

Also featured in the film are Chelsea Werner, a gymnast with Down’s syndrome, female Cuban boxer Namibia Flores, surfer Mike Coots – who lost a leg in a shark attack – and members of the Kings Cross Steelers – a gay rugby team from London, UK.

In a statement to Gay Star Business about their involvement, Christopher Kang, a Steelers First VX player who features in the advert said, ‘For over 20 years, the Steelers have been helping hundreds of gay and bisexual men to build confidence and strength of character through the sport of rugby.

‘Perhaps due to our history and place in the community, we were approached by H&M about getting involved in a new ad that celebrates sports and diversity.

‘We were honoured to be asked and the guys really enjoyed being a part of it…despite having to spend a cold March day standing around in kit!’

‘For me it was the most freeing moment ever. Being able to be honest with someone about who you are’

To tie in with the campaign launch, H&M posted a longer video interview with Jenner in which she discussed her ‘greatest victories’. She talks about being dyslexic, her gender issues, discovering her sporting talent, and the Olympics.

‘When you have gender issues, you have a tendency to isolate yourself from people, and you are certainly afraid to tell anybody,’ she says of the moment in 1970 when she first shared her ‘secret’.

‘The first person I told was my first wife, Chrystie, and this is actually after we had gotten married because I thought I had everything under control. She was kind of shocked, as most people are, but for me it was the most freeing moment ever. Being able to be honest with someone about who you are.’

She says she considers her children to be her life’s greatest accomplishment – far more than her gold medal, which she says she now keeps in a drawer with her nail colors.

She also talks about the moment in 1984 when she first seriously thought about transitioning after seeing a TV program that featured a gender clinic in Orange County, California.

Although she didn’t announce to the world her desire to transition until 2015, she says the decision to ‘live life as Caitlyn’ was the ‘biggest victory of all.’

H&M developed its ‘For Every Victory’ line in collaboration with the Swedish Olympic team. It has also designed the uniforms for the Olympic and Paralympic teams for Rio 2016.

Last year, & Other Stories, a smaller fashion brand owned by H&M, used transgender models – including Valentijn de Hugh and Hari Nef – as part of a video campaign

The H&M Group has more than 3,900 stores in 61 countries, and 148,000 employees. Its 2015 sales totaled $24.4billion/€22billion.