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Merrell Wants to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive

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Artist Latasha Dunston reimagined Merrell’s best-selling trail runners for its new “Outdoors for All” collection.

Courtesy of Merrell

Artist Latasha Dunston reimagined Merrell’s best-selling trail runners for its new “Outdoors for All” collection.

A percentage of the proceeds from the new Merrell x Latasha Dunston “Outdoors for All” Collection will go to a nonprofit that encourages Black women, men, and children to explore nature.

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Over the years, multiple studies have provided hard evidence that spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety. We’ve even written entire articles on how a hike can make your entire vacation more relaxing. In theory, the nation’s public lands are free and accessible to every person in the United States. In reality? Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American people in the U.S. are much less likely than white people to live in a place with easy access to the great outdoors, according to a 2020 study.

In order to make access to nature more inclusive, several nonprofit representation initiatives in the outdoor space have launched in the past decade, including Wild Diversity, Diversify Outdoors, and Outdoor Afro—founded by Rue Mapp, a member of the 2021 AFAR Travel Vanguard—to name a few.

Major companies are also doing their part, too. Merrell—the maker of some of AFAR’s favorite hiking footwear—has teamed up with artist Latasha Dunston to design a new “Outdoors for All” collection that launched June 16. Merrell is donating 25 percent of proceeds (up to $15,000) from the collection to Vibe Tribe Adventures, another nonprofit organization that encourages Black women, men, and youth to explore the great outdoors. 

Those familiar with Dunston’s @Jitterbug_art Instagram account will recognize her nature-inspired illustrations in this new collection, which features a pair of trail runners for men and women, as well as unisex hat and T-shirt designs, plus a tote bag and a neck gaiter.

Latasha Dunston is a Colorado-based illustrator, painter, and dog lover.

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Dunston, who also creates murals and editorial illustrations and hosts plein air painting workshops, drew inspiration for the collection through her time spent outdoors.

“I believe humans are just as biodiverse and creative and can come together in solidarity for the greater good in the same way nature does every day,” Dunston said in a press release. “That is where the solidarity fist with the different colored nature elements came from. It is also a design that manifested out of necessity.” 

In addition to trail runners, the collection also features tote bags and T-shirts with Dunston’s designs.

Buy Now: Women’s Antora 2 shoe, $110, merrell.com; Men’s Nova 2 shoe, $110, merrell.com

In Dunston’s version of Merrell’s best-selling trail runners, you’ll find the multi-colored ombre elements featured on the sides and soles of the shoes with the solidarity fist on the insole. Created with sustainability in mind, the mesh uppers and lining, as well as the laces, are all made with 100 percent recycled materials. The Vibram rubber sole provides stability on slippery surfaces, while a lightweight EVA foam midsole adds comfort for long days on the trail.

Shop the full Merrell x Latasha Dunston Outdoors for All collection online at merrell.com.

>> Next: Essential Tips for LGBTQ Travelers in the Great Outdoors

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