Nude. The clue is in the title for this particular colour. The shade, often used when describing products aimed to be disguised against skin, is supposed to reflect the naked body. But when human skin colour is so varied, which skin tone is actually ‘nude’?
The fashion and cosmetic industries have made it quite clear for some time. As many products like cream stockings, peach bras and even the classic light pink band-aids are classified as ‘nude’ or ‘flesh-toned’, we get the loaded message that these consumer goods are for Caucasian people.
However, some brands are starting to challenge these standards by highlighting that not every person’s ‘nude’ looks like a milky colour palette.
Underwear label Naja has just released their #nudeforall bras, briefs and g-strings made to suit women's different skin tones. With seven different types of nude shades, Naja’s most recent collection sells intimates from ivory with pink undertones, to dark beige with red hues, to a deep espresso colour, and the company have said there are more shades are to be manufactured.
The collection also factors in that many women are not only looking for underwear that's not only invisible, but also comfortable. Naja aims to make smalls for all body types, and currently their bras go up to a DDD and produce matching underwear in size 2XL.
Founder of Naja, Catalina Girald who is Latin American-born, US-based told Style.Mic that the idea for the colour-inclusive line came to her while watching gymnast Gabby Douglas compete in 2012 London Olympic games.
“I was watching her competing and these girls were wearing an [elastic bandage] wrap on their foot and it was the first time I had thought about that,” said Girald. “I started thinking, ‘wow, like, there aren’t even dark brown Band-Aids,’ so it was a random idea considering Naja didn’t even exist back then.”
Since the brand launched in 2013, the company has focused on ethical manufacturing and empowerment of women. Naja manufactures their products in a factory in Colombia, Girald's motherland, paying their workers above minimum wage and including healthcare benefits and flexible work hours. The label primarily employs single mothers or heads of female households to continue their vision as a female-owned and controlled business. As Naja aims to combat the ongoing social issue facing single mothers who have a difficult decision between earning money and caring for their children, they also provide every child of their garment workers with books, school supplies, uniforms and paid school meals.
Naja’s seven shades of nude collection is currently being advertised across New York City, where the women in the campaign demonstrate more accurate perceptions of the female figure than an up the skirt shot of a Calvin Klein model. The campaign was delivered by ad executive, Madonna Badger, who recently made a pledge to stop objectifying women in advertisements, and intentionally worked with 'non-models' on this particular photo shoot.
"It's giving a face and a personality to the women in the ads," Girald said. "One is a ballerina. Another is a software engineer. Victoria's Secret angels have wings on them but we don't know anything about them, and they're these mythical creatures that don't exist. We wanted to represent women in lingerie as they actually are."
As the fashion industry increases to recognise the needs of people whose nude body is far from a light shade, hopefully we will see more underwear lines and other personalised accessories that include those with darker features, and people with beige, brown and black skin can also benefit from the purposes of ‘naked’ products.