We are excited to invite you to take a look behind the curtain and share the things that inspired us and helped shape the products that you see today and that have yet to come! In this series, Behind the Brand, we tap into the minds behind Outdoor Afro Inc., our partners, and collaborators to see what they saw, create a space for them to share their wisdom, and provide insights on what inspired them in the creation process. In this inaugural post, we’re sharing first-hand insights from the crew behind the current product line.
Okay, let’s get into it. Where do you start when looking at colors and colorways for product lines?
“Colors in the Fashion & Outdoor world change every year and every season. Our approach to color is to take a more personal approach, tapping into our own history as well as understanding what our customers want. Oftentimes, we are checking in with the broader Outdoor Afro Inc. community to understand what colors currently inspire them.”
What obstacles, if any, have you run into specifically when looking at colors and for the current colorway?
“The main obstacle when conducting color research is getting tied into color trends of other, popular companies. Most fashion companies pay for the latest trends in color, often to the detriment of originality—you can see this reflected in the clothing of many brands that all look alike. At Outdoor Afro Inc, we want our colors to stand out—to be original and unique—so our research often takes us on a more personal route.”
Was there anything when sourcing this current colorway that surprised you?
“What surprised us with this collection is how well the pant’s design works with multiple colors! Our Trailpants are inspired by 80’s parachute pants, and have lots of functional zipper pockets. The colorways, with lots of contrast colors, work to balance a design that looks well rounded without overdoing it. They also look good on everyone!”
How did you approach the color palette for this product line, and what inspired your choice of colors?
“Most outdoor colors are stuck in the realm of an older dad’s perspective with lots of tan-colored neutrals and plaids. Rue wanted to shake things up by using more vibrant colors, drawing colorful inspiration from her personal background. The collection was heavily influenced by 1980’s fashion and music. One of our favorite inspirations was the TV show, A Different World. The fashion had wide ranging energy, and lots of color and patterns.”
Can you describe the role that color plays in creating a cohesive and appealing product line for Outdoor Afro Inc.? How do they specifically relate to Swagger and Black Joy?
“We want our product line to give people confidence and spark joy. We do this by making great gear that takes you anywhere, and gives you an opportunity to express your personality with colors drawn from Black insights and culture. When that balance is on point, we’ve achieved Nature Swagger.”
How do you balance aesthetics and functionality when choosing colors for outdoor products like these?
“Our products are made with the best technical materials the outdoor industry offers. With a sound foundation on the functional side, we wanted to play a little bit with the visual draw of our designs. We wanted to be seen as smart, tight, and fun.”
Can you explain the process of testing and selecting colors that are not only visually appealing but also durable and fade-resistant for outdoor use?
“Not only can UV rays cause harmful damage to your skin, they can also damage clothing materials. All of our materials are of the highest quality—they take color well and are tested for color fastness to ensure that the colors do not fade or bleed when exposed to sunlight and repeated washing (Color Fastness, actual technical term).”
Can you share any insights into the psychology of color and how you considered this when creating a colorway that evokes a specific emotional response in consumers?
“There are several aspects to color theory in the outdoors. The old school perspective can be split into two camps: be seen for emergency rescue needs, or blending in for camouflage. From Outdoor Afro Inc.’s perspective, we want to be bold and be seen in nature. That means contrast between individual colors, as well as colors that look good on all skin colors.”
What’s next? Is there going to be another color drop in this collection?
“Our next drop will be in Spring 2024. For that specific drop, Rue has taken another inspirational page out her background by drawing inspiration from 90’s urban fashion. We can’t say much beyond that until the collection drops!”
In reflecting on the process of creating this colorway, what aspect of the design journey are you most proud of, and why?
“The most proud moments are when you see your work out in the “wild,” when people use their hard-earned money to buy something from your creative output. Oftentimes, Rue will approach people wearing her designs with a big thank you and a huge hug.”
Looking ahead, how do you envision the evolution of color choices in future product lines for Outdoor Afro, and what factors do you anticipate will influence these choices?
“In general, Outdoor Afro Inc is all about looking good and having fun in Nature. Expect good designs, great fits, and tight color coordination—these are essential aspects of our DNA. In a world of tan and plaid, we expect to stand out and always have that Nature Swagger.”
Hope you enjoyed this little look behind the curtain with our crew, but now we want to hear from you! What colors are you hoping to see next? Let us know on social media: @outdoorafroinc. Make sure to sign up for our email newsletter (sign up below) so you never miss an update from Outdoor Afro Inc. and our ambassadors who are crisscrossing the world and putting their gear through its paces.
Do you think you’d make a good addition to our crew of ambassadors? Check out the team and apply here.
Want to learn more about our REI x Outdoor Afro Inc. collection? Check out the collection here.