Retailers are updating their definition of 'nude' to include women of color.
From makeup to leotards, the fashion industry’s “nude” offerings traditionally skewed toward one type of skin: peach, off-white or beige. Women with skin in any other color have have been limited to independent lines, separate departments or other creative alternatives.
Several companies have launched recently seeking to capitalize on a market neglected by traditional brands. Lingerie startup Naja’s Nude For All line offers seven shades of nude underwear, while lipstick company MDMFlow makes a nude lipstick designed for women of color that was picked up by Nasty Gal. Dance company Mahogany Blue makes leotards in a range of skin tones for dancers, who would previously have to buy lighter outfits and dye them.
“I entered into this market to change the world’s perception of nude,” said Mahogany Blue founder Whitney Bracey in an email. “It’s not just a color. It represents the the diverse colors of the human race and that should be shown in all things ‘nude’.”
As fashion continues its trend toward increased representations of diversity, mainstream brands are also starting to introducing palates that feature a holistic range of nude shades.
Footwear designer Christian Louboutin recently expanded his Nude Collection, a line previously available only in beige, to include seven skin tones. Designer underwear brand Björn Borg launched a collection in March with a range of nude shades and the tagline “Six Shades of Human”. In April, Neutrogena rolled out four new shades of foundation for women of color, with help from celebrity ambassador Kerry Washington.
Enough offerings exist, in fact, that two Harvard MBA candidates have launched a website that curates nude-shaded products from around the web called Mia Pielle. The site is currently in testing mode but already has a lengthy waitlist.
“What’s interesting is that the fashion industry does produce brown-colored items in many shades,” Mia Pielle founder Atima Lui told Mic. “Fashion brands treat these products like fashion colors that come in and out with their particular seasons and not like a functional nude concept required year-round.”
As predicted in our Future 100 trend report, brands are taking down the division between “general” and “ethnic” categories. And with minority groups set to make up more than half of the US population by 2050, consumers will likely continue to demand a more integrated approach that better reflects the world around them.