Courtesy of Outdoor Afro Inc.
Outdoor Afro Inc. and REI Co-op have launched a joint hiking collection to help address unmet needs in outdoor apparel and celebrate black joy in the great outdoors. A new chapter for national non-profit founder and CEO Rue Mapp, Outdoor Afro Inc. is the corporate partner of her 13-year-old organization and the co-op’s inspiration for this innovative collection.
“The outdoors has been, and will continue to be, a place where black people seek connection and respite,” said Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro. “Black people have always spent time outside across a variety of activities, but society has always felt a gap in finding gear that fits, works well, feels good and represents their personal style. REI was the right partner to listen deeply and help us create a collection that would begin to meet those needs. We’re excited to launch this inspiring campaign, share this hiking collection, and continue to elevate black joy outdoors.”
Outdoor Afro Inc. is a new venture for Mapp that celebrates and inspires black community connections to the outdoors through relevant product design, manufacturing, sales and outdoor experiences. For more than a decade, her non-profit organization and REI have built a relationship to address the lack of black representation in the outdoors. That relationship led to this new collaboration.
“Our longstanding relationship with Outdoor Afro provided a natural platform to help us better understand what the outdoors means to the black community. This partnership allowed us to authentically identify and address barriers to create more inclusive design solutions that will connecting more people to the power of the outdoors,” said Isabelle Portilla, division director of product strategy and design for REI Co-op brands.
“All of our research, design and fit work was collaboratively developed and led with Outdoor Afro Inc. Robust insight and true collaboration informed the consciously designed collection that symbolizes connection, community and an outdoors where all are welcome.”
For the first drop in the multi-launch collection, Outdoor Afro Inc. worked. and REI closely with members of the Black community to understand their outdoor product needs and begin developing a collection to inspire and ignite more Black joy in the outdoors.
“Although this collection is designed for the black community, it also addresses universal needs. We are creating a better outdoor product for everyone,” adds Rue Mapp.
Outdoor Afro Inc. x REI Co-op Hike Collection is available now at REI locations and online at REI.com.