Outdoor brands including Patagonia, the North Face and Arc’teryx have come together to launch a new brand aimed at encouraging diverse communities to explore outdoor activities.
"Opening Up the Outdoors," or OUTO, is a not-for-profit organization committed to breaking down the barriers to inclusivity, and supporting groups across Europe that are doing the work to make the outdoors a safe and welcoming space for everyone. Groups named on the website already include Muslim Hikers, Black Trail Runners and Passion Fruit Pictures, which aims to bring diversity to the outdoors via photography and filmmaking. The first cohort to take will have the opportunity to apply for development grants of up to 11,000 Euros to invest directly in their organizations.
The founding members -- the North Face, Arc’teryx, Adidas Terrex, Patagonia and Vivobarefoot -- are today sharing the brand on their social channels.
The brand was created after resulted initial research conducted by Amsterdam-based agency We Are Pi, which has also designed the OUTO logo and promotional materials. The idea was conceived in 2021 as a response to systemic racism, anti-Asian sentiment and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and it envisions an outdoor community and industry that is truly diverse, equitable, anti-racist and accessible to all.
“In 2020 We Are Pi published an article called “Opening Up The Outdoors' in the first edition of our New Society Rules research reporting on cultural change affecting brands," said Alex Bennett Grant, founder and CEO of We Are Pi. "We’d never have dreamed that two years later that research would inspire an outdoor industry wide organization on the scale of OUTO. We’re incredibly proud of the impact its already having and hope it inspires others to unite purpose and business towards opening up more industries.”
In an interview with Ad Age, Bennett Grant added that OUTO's branding was designed with a nod to vibrant "Afro Punk" style that reflects the idea that diverse communities can "bring a new perspective and flavor to the outdoors."
"We can all visualize what hiking looks like. But we are going to bring a bit more of the city and the culture into the outdoors," he said.
The OUTO organization is also part of the Great Out There Coalition, an international, not-for-profit organization based in Brussels.
Amanda Calder-McLaren, senior brand director for The North Face has been appointed Chairperson of the OUTO Council with journalist and filmmaker Keme Nzerem taking the role of vice-president on the It's Great Out There Coalition Board.
"Spending quality time in the great outdoors is a right everyone should be able to enjoy, but ever since I began hiking, mountain biking and skiing I've often been one of the only Black or Brown faces on the trail (or piste)," said Nzerem in a statement. "For a multitude of reasons, many of us miss out on the joys, thrills and spills of outdoor sport and adventure. At the core of OUTO's work is our changemaker program. I'm honored to help support grass roots visionaries and pioneers from across our ethnically diverse communities, who are helping transform the outdoors into a more accessible playground where everyone feels welcome and included."