By Clare Mulroy
This article was first published January 9, 2021 in Tagg Magazine here.
Kinyatta Gray, founder of FlightsInStilettos, has a vision for the future of travel — accessories that look and feel representative of her customers.
Her latest endeavor is the first ever LGBTQ beach towel that features a Black lesbian couple. Gray released the latest design, the “Love Wins” beach towel, as part of her 2021 Glam Girl Beach Towels collection. The “Love Wins” towel features a Black queer couple holding hands on the beach.
“You don’t see a lot of these images on beach towels at all, and then to drill down even deeper, you definitely don’t see a lot of images of people of color,” says Gray. “Go even deeper, [images of] Black lesbians…it does not exist.”
The design is inspired by Gray and her wife, who got married in 2017. Gray’s motivation was to create a towel that featured images of a lesbian couple, opposed to the typical pride colors or designs. The microfiber beach towel is also in response to the lack of images of people of color in travel accessories.
Since the release of the “Love Wins” towel, Gray says she is impressed by the outpouring of support from the community. Women who have similar hair or tattoos see themselves in the images represented in the new beach towels. The entire 2021 Glam Girl Collection features women of different races and body types sporting unique beach outfits.
“I’m very confident that it may really be one of the first beach towels that has that kind of image on it,” she says. “It’s almost shocking, and it’s surprising. [Customers] are like, ‘Gosh, someone is thinking about us.’” According to Gray, she even submitted the towel to the Guiness Book of World Records to confirm the “Love Wins” towel as the first ever Black LGBTQ beach towel.
Not only does Gray incorporate representation in the images of women, she also tries to weave it throughout her entire business. FlightsInStiletto originally started as a travel blog but quickly turned into a brand once Gray realized that she didn’t see a lot of accessories that represented her or reflected her personal style.
She began designing products in mid 2018. Now in 2020, FlightsInStilettos has appeared in New York Fashion Week and has a growing presence online. Between customizable luggage sets and the “Traveling Tiaras” children’s travel accessories with images of young jet-setting girls of color, Gray’s mission is to incorporate representation of her customer base and her own travel style.
Ultimately, Gray believes there is an opportunity for the entire fashion and travel industry to step up and increase representation.
“I think there are a lot of organizations that are really stepping up to the forefront. [We need] to see advertising, and clothing and all kinds of travel destinations that really speak to you and let you know, ‘Hey, you are welcome,’” says Gray. “It’s something that we’re seeing more and more, but we can always do better.”