Meet the Brands Behind Fashion’s ‘Nude’ Revolution

Meet the Brands Behind Fashion’s ‘Nude’ Revolution
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Photo: Nudz

For as long as any of us can probably remember, nude in fashion has meant just one thing: a peachy, pale beige—ostensibly meant to blend into the skin, lengthen limbs, and act as a neutral base layer to build your outfit upon.

In magazines, spreads of shimmery peach dresses, “elongating” beige pumps, and creamy dress pants would invariably be given some suggestive-yet-tasteful title like “In the Nude,” and tout the versatility of such “flesh-tone” pieces. The shade even has the official seal of approval from Pantone.

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Of course, there’s one glaring problem with this: Nude, by its literal definition, is supposed to match the wearer’s skin tone, and for many people—especially women of color—this simply isn’t the case. Obvious though this might seem, it’s an issue that’s been ignored by clothing, lingerie, and accessories companies for decades, and only recently have plucky startups been able to gain enough traction to come along and fill in the gaps, offering wider ranges of flesh-tone pieces for darker-skinned women. In retail terms, it’s still very early days, since many of these brands are still in their first year or so of existence, but still: Tides seem to be shifting toward more inclusive selections and away from the one-shade-fits-all standard of years past.

And, hey, it’s about time: Crayola changed its “Flesh”-colored crayon to “Peach” in 1962—what’s taken the fashion industry another half century or so to catch up?

Ahead, meet some of the pioneering brands giving women of all skin tones nudes they can finally use.

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Nubian Skin

@nubianskin

It might seem strange to call a brand that launched in 2014 the OG of an industry, but in the case of Nubian Skin, it's true: The segment was just that neglected before the company came along. Founder Ade Hassan built the business in response to the dearth of skin-tone options she found in her own closet; the line now offers bras, panties, and hosiery in four shades, ranging from Café Au Lait to Berry. As The Lingerie Addict pointed out, the UK-based brand's rise to mainstream recognition and retail success has been virtually unprecedented, with Nordstrom and ASOS picking up the collection within months of its launch, no doubt inspiring the still-swelling wave of entrepreneurs in its wake.

The Classic Lace Push-Up Bra in Café au Lait, $65; at Nubian Skin

The Short in Berry, $18; at Nubian Skin

The Strapless Convertible Bra in Caramel, $60; at Nubian Skin

The Essential T-Shirt Bra in Cinnamon, $55; at Nubian Skin

Christian Louboutin

While hardly an upstart, the accessories brand made headlines in 2013 when it became one of the first luxury labels to start explicitly catering to a diverse range of skin tones, first with an assortment of nude pumps in seven different shades and then, earlier this year, with a collection of pointed-toe flats. See? Even exclusivity can be inclusive.

Senora Safki T-Strap Pump in No. 5, $875; at Christian Louboutin

Solasofia Maria Flat in No. 4, $595; at Christian Louboutin

Pigalle Follies Lea Nue in No. 1, $675; at Christian Louboutin

So Kate Ada in No. 6, $675; at Christian Louboutin

Solasofia Flat Toudou in No. 7, $595; at Christian Louboutin

Naja

@naja

If you're a New York subway rider, there's a good chance you saw this brand's splashy ad campaign take over the Bedford L-train stop this month—and if not, now's a good time to take note of its name, because its new Nude for All Collection has the potential to be a game-changer. With seven distinct skin tones, bra sizes ranging from 32-40 and A-DDD, and three styles of panties (bikini, thong, and high-waist)—plus a clever “Match with Makeup” feature online to find your best shade—you have a good shot at finding exactly what you're looking for. The two-year-old company also has a solid reputation to stand on: founder and CEO Catalina Girald promotes ethical manufacturing in her native Colombia (co-founder Gina Rodriguez of "Jane the Virgin" signed on last year in support of the mission), and the brand's vertical integration means it isn't beholden to the huge minimum orders that generally make producing less in-demand colors and sizes financially unfeasible.

Sasha Nude Demi Bra in Nude 07, $36; at Naja

Classic Nude High-Waist Panty in Nude 03, $18; at Naja

Sasha Nude Demi Bra in Nude 04, $36; at Naja

Thong in Nude 01, $15; at Naja

Bikini in Nude 05, $20; at Naja

Mahogany Blues

At just over a year old, this dance apparel label has carved out a niche (that really shouldn’t be a niche at all) by offering leotards in various styles for dancers of color. According to BuzzFeed, founder Whitney Bracey hit upon the idea for the business when a friend told her that darker-skinned dancers generally had to resort to dyeing the peachy-pink spandex offered elsewhere if they wanted to find a shade that matched their skin tones. In response, she's coined the hashtag #NoMoreDyeing and sponsors one dance company or studio per year through the line.

 

Camisole Leotard, $45; at Mahogany Blues

Halter Leotard, $45; at Mahogany Blues

Short-Sleeve Leotard, $45; at Mahogany Blues

Nudz

@_thenewnudes

In July 2015, Nudz, Inc. founder Sheila Donaldson launched a Kickstarter to help fund her mission to "banish beige" as the default shade for so-called "nude" lingerie. After raising $31,000 and spending a year fine-tuning design and production, the brand is gearing up to offer its initial collection—a nonmolded, nonpadded convertible bra available in sizes 30B to 38F, along with a thong, boy short, and bikini brief—for pre-order beginning June 5. What's more, each style comes in a full 10 shades, each named after a different celeb (Scarlett, Kerry, Lupita, etc.).

Bras, $78, and Bikini Briefs, $20; at Nudz

Bra, $78, and Bikini Briefs, $20; at Nudz

Bra, $78, and Bikini Briefs, $20; at Nudz

Bra, $78, and Bikini Briefs, $20; at Nudz

Mia Pielle

@miapielle

Founded by two Harvard Business School students, this startup is working on an algorithm-driven search engine that will troll the web to help women find clothes, lingerie, and accessories that match their skin tone. It's still in alpha mode, but you can join the waiting list if you want to be one of the first to test it out.

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