Outdoor Afro’s corporate partner, Outdoor Afro Inc., drops electrifying colors with REI

Written By Candace Dantes

Published on Jul 18, 2023

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The “hike fits made to move with every body” are back with high-voltage hues and universal designs to accommodate outdoor adventurers traveling near and far this summer. “For a second season, we’re breaking design barriers,” said Outdoor Afro Founder and CEO Rue Mapp, who also founded for-profit enterprise Outdoor Afro, Inc. “Inc.’s summer 2023 hike collection co-created with REI Co-op is an extension of last year’s vibrant colors, functional styles, and fits made with every single body in mind.” The 2023 color drop pops with the introduction of halcyon blue and violet blossom into the hike collection’s fleece pullovers, shell jackets, trail pants, shorts, and tops. 


Like the original launch, these newer collection pieces include hike styles that still consider wider ranges of body types, shapes, sizes, and original graphics. Outdoor Afro, Inc. x REI Co-op launched the technical hike apparel September 2022 with hues like papaya, teal glaze, and shoreline gold leading the pioneering co-collaboration. Working closely with Black people and Black communities to understand outdoor product needs, Outdoor Afro, Inc. and REI Co-op developed a 22-piece hike line that brings inclusive design to the forefront. That solves unmet design needs in outdoor gear and equipment.

Mapp’s relationship with the co-op started 14 years ago through her national not-for-profit organization Outdoor Afro. Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. REI Co-op is an outdoor specialty retailer that connects every person to the power of the outdoors. Together, the brands share an enduring relationship. “Outdoor Afro and Outdoor Afro Inc. continue to help us expand our inclusive design practices and bring collections that are designed to inspire more people to join us outside” said Isabelle Portilla, vice president, REI Co-op brands. “This second chapter of our hike collection add vibrant colors to inspire joy in nature for everyone.”

During 2021, Mapp established for-profit Outdoor Afro, Inc., which celebrates and inspires Black connections to the outdoors through product design, manufacturing, sales, and experiences. Today, both Inc. and REI serve as corporate partners of not-for-profit Outdoor Afro. Last year’s hike collection launched the Inc. and co-op business collaboration. The co-created project also introduced Mapp’s for-profit business and her as an innovative outdoor gear designer.

WGSN, a global consumer trend forecaster, fancied the hike collection so much that it highlighted the universal styles as part of the predictor’s 2025 “Big Ideas” fashion report. This report underscores six need-to-know directions that will impact the industry that year. WGSN featured the collection as an “Urgent Optimism” big idea. “That’s the beauty of each fit,” said Mapp. “The collection is informed by more than a decade of relationship-building with REI and cultivating meaningful conversations with today’s outdoor enthusiasts connected to our brands. The results: all-embracing designs for our various hiking lifestyles.”

ABOUT OUTDOOR AFRO: Outdoor Afro is a national not-for-profit organization that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. What started as a kitchen table blog by Founder and CEO Rue Mapp in 2009 has since grown into a cutting-edge nationwide network with 100-plus volunteer leaders in 60 cities with network participation reaching 60,000 people. Outdoor Afro reconnects Black people with the outdoors through outdoor education, recreation, and conservation. Follow Outdoor Afro at outdoorafro.org and on social @outdoorafro today.

ABOUT OUTDOOR AFRO INC.: The for-profit business celebrates and inspires Black community connections to the outdoors through relevant product design, manufacturing, sales, and outdoor experiences. To learn more, visit @outdoorafroinc on social media.

ABOUT REI CO-OP: REI is a specialty outdoor retailer headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 181 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.

*Photos by Meron Menghistab (@meron_photo)

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Candace Dantes

Candace Dantes

Candace Dantes serves as Outdoor Afro's inaugural Communications Director. The fourth-generation cowgirl and award-winning journalist and marketer is based in the Georgia Black Belt Region. For more than a decade, the rural Georgia storyteller has given agency to Black farming and cowhand culture in traditional and new media. From Smalltown USA, she has collaborated with global brands like London's Black Beauty & Hair Magazine and M&C Saatchi. Back home with U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant Black Farmers' Network, Wrangler, Justin Boots and Visit Fort Worth.