Target Pride collection designer shuts down online store due to overwhelming demand

Erik Carnell

The designer for Target’s 2023 Pride collection has been forced to temporarily shut down his personal brand store after receiving an influx of orders.

Queer designer Eric Carnell thanked fans for their positive messages about his work after a design collaboration with Target ended in controversy.

The American store chain was criticised for its response to right-wing backlash against the Pride apparel collection, some of the pieces designed by Carnell, after it removed a chunk of the clothing from store shelves and moved displays to the backs of branches.

He told PinkNews on Wednesday (24 May) that Target had not contacted him to preface that his designs would be pulled and that he was seen as “very, very, very low priority.”

“I have been keeping an eye on the website because my stuff was getting review-bombed by conservatives,” he said.

“Every so often, one or two of my products would be taken down from the website, or the link to my brand page… with no explanation or communication.”

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Following the controversy, several LGBTQ+ activists and fans of his work took the time to give Carnell several positive reviews on his brand’s store page, Abprallen.

One of them detailed the review of a pin, writing that it was “beautiful” and something to “wear with pride.”

Others simply didn’t want to skip out on Carnell’s colourful designs due to Target’s reluctance to sell them.

In response to the wave of positivity, he wrote in a statement on his website: “Thank you all for the unprecedented number of orders. Your support during this extremely difficult time means more than I can express.

“I am putting my shop on holiday mode and not accepting new orders until I catch up on the ones I currently have, thank you so much for your understanding.”

‘Volatile circumstances’

The artist was initially struck with disappointment following Target’s reaction, saying he had missed out on what could have been a significant moment of his career.

Carnell added that the company should have anticipated the backlash, adding: “It’s very much a case of everyone scrambling to do what they think is the best thing for the next five minutes.”

“It was anticipated that there would be pushback, I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would be quite this extreme.”

Following the controversy, right-wing, anti-LGBTQ+ extremists have been recorded vandalising store property in an attempt to prove how anti-woke they are.

Footage shared across social media has shown a number of attacks across Target stores from those labelling the business as “Satanic” and out to “groom” children.

In a statement, Target said the decision was made given the “volatile circumstances,” and out of a duty to protect staff.

“Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the years.”

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