Aesop swaps hand creams for hardbacks with its Queer Library takeover

New in-store installation promotes literature written by members of LGBTQIA+ community

Beauty brand Aesop has cleared its shelves of cosmetics to make way for a library of literature written by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their supporters.

The new Queer Library, running until 12 September, is dedicated to promoting queer voices and their stories, taking over Aesop’s Soho and Borough, UK destinations.

Following the cancellation of London Pride 2021, the apothecary-style beauty brand chose to show its commitment to equality for all voices by giving its stores a makeover.

Visiting customers will be able to take home a complimentary book, regardless of if they purchase a product or not, which is intended as a good-will gesture by the brand, rather than as a profitable venture.

To select the 80 titles, spanning fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the brand purchased 3,500 volumes from Bloomsbury’s UK gay bookstore, Gay’s The Word.

Meanwhile, publishing powerhouse Penguin Random House donated more than 3,000 books to the cause.

A particular focus has also been placed on black, indigenous and people of colour’s titles, as well as authors from the transgender community, such as Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other, Mohsin Zaidi, who wrote A Dutiful Boy and The Trandgender Issue’s author Shon Faye.

“The way Aesop has chosen to celebrate Pride in the UK is one of our most unique activations yet,” said Adam Kakembo, Aesop’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“We are not simply changing our logo or launching a Pride-themed collection, this multi-layer gesture of generosity is aimed at supporting our LGBTQIA+ staff, customers, independent queer-owned book stores and the communities within London.

“As a company committed to building a diverse, inclusive and equitable culture, we are mindful of the heinous crimes, discrimination and opporession to the LGBTQIA+ specturm.”

For this year’s Pride month in June, a number of beauty brands took up the tradition of releasing rainbow-themed merchandise.

Colour cosmetics brand Morphe launched its Live with Love collection in partnership with US rapper Todrick Hall, while tanning brand St. Moriz linked up with not-for-profit Cybersmile to provide expert advice and support for victims of abuse online.

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