This Inclusive Leisure Model Is Reworking Me Into the Outdoorsy Particular person of My Goals


The Leisure chair and table from the first Beach & Park Collection by ITA Leisure.

Photo: Brandon Thomas Brown

Jade Akintola will assure you that she is a newbie to the outdoors, but that hasn’t stopped her from launching a brand to better serve BIPOC in green spaces. Last month, the New York-based marketing director introduced the world to ITA Leisure, an emerging brand and marketplace for diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors. Through the brand’s Radical Acts of Leisure campaign, Jade’s mission was to enable her community to rest and reconnect while reclaiming nature as a haven.

Much like many of her black and brown counterparts who saw a tremendous change in their social habits during the pandemic, Jade retired to nature to feel a sense of peace amid the chaos. During a trip to San Diego last year, she came to a deep insight into the aesthetics of outdoor gear: while the Bohemian, Australian, Californian, and Western themes may seem relatively innocuous, there are subliminal messages that signal an erasure. “We were very, very visible while we were there [in San Diego], and with the things we had, it was almost like we were playing a role, ”says Jade. Not only was she trying to mimic a lifestyle that hadn’t really been sold to her before, but it was a deeply uncomfortable position at a time when race was at the forefront of daily discourse.

In 2017, a report by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) found that consumer spending in the outdoor recreation economy is $ 887 billion annually on apparel, footwear, equipment, travel, and other services. Of course, some brands have been more advanced than others when it comes to creating space for more diversity, but Jade still wondered, “What is it like to have a brand where inclusivity is the foundation rather than an afterthought? “The other element was the design language of these objects, which Jade could not attribute to this new generation of leisure seekers to which she belongs.

A couple of men modeling the patterned towels on a beach from the ITA’s “Radical Acts of Leisure” campaign.

Photo: Brandon Thomas Brown


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