It’s taken a while, but the fashion industry has finally been realizing in the past few years (albeit very slowly) that one so-called “nude” hue most certainly does not fit all. Innovative lingerie start-up Naja is ready to bring diversity to skivvies collections everywhere: The brand, launched in 2014, just launched its new Nude For All collection today, billed as a “socially correct” assortment of seven distinct skin tones that truly span a wide range of shades of nude. The collection is comprised, for now, of three seamless underwear styles and one bra style, spanning XS-XXL, band sizes 32-40, and cup sizes A-DDD. Naja’s founder and CEO, Catalina Girald, first started thinking about the limited palette of nude hues on the market four years ago, while watching African American gymnast Gabby Douglas compete in a 2012 Summer Olympics in a “nude” ankle wrap that didn’t match her skin tone at all. But Nude For All came to fruition quickly; the idea started percolating a year ago, and development — including the complicated color-testing process — began in February (the brand “has incredibly short lead times,” Girald explained).
Originally, the brand was aiming to select five nude hues out of 23 test colors for the collection, and posted an open call on Craigslist and social media for a diverse casting of models to color-test Nude For All underwear. "In the end, we decided to add two outlier colors: one for the fairest skin tones and one for the darkest skin tones,” Girald said. “These were the women that could never find anything in their colors, and so we wanted to make sure they could.” The three palest shades of the Nude For All range were the most difficult to match to real skin tones: “Lighter skin tones have a broader variance in tones — they will skew towards yellow, red, or green, and the color difference is more subtle,” Girald explained. So, why haven’t we already seen nude lingerie that could match any (or, at least, many) of the skin tones out there? Girald points to the high minimum-order quantities and slow production times that lingerie brands traditionally have to honor. Neither of these is specially conducive to producing a considerable range of colors in a single style — and in a bunch of very specific cup/band sizes, no less. “It's an inventory nightmare,” Girald says. By comparison, Naja has much lower order quantities (200 units per style, instead of 10K units) and a speedier production window (one month, versus one year). Nude For All’s ads, which star 10 non-models from a variety of professional fields, were created by creative agency Badger & Winters (cofounder Madonna Badger is also behind the “Women Not Objects” campaign). “We tried to choose women breaking molds,” Girald told Refinery29 of the casting. The ads feature women like Naja co-founder Gina Rodriguez (of Jane The Virgin), the soloist in a top ballet company, a Harvard Business School student, and a software engineer, and a woman from “a conservative Muslim Bangladeshi family who stood up against being forced into an arranged marriage,” Girald said.
The beautifully shot ads are debuting today in a busy NYC subway station (the Bedford stop on the L train, specifically). Introducing the new-wave nudes in a splashy-enough manner was key to Girald's grand plan: "Frankly, we waited to release Nude For All until we could make a big enough splash," she said. "I didn't want it to be about a collection. It had to be about a social statement — and we had to be able to put up a big billboard about it... We couldn't afford that when we first started." A few other brands have already created (or expanded into) a diverse range of flesh-tone offerings. Christian Louboutin accomplished this in the footwear space when it extended its nude assortment last June, but the price point ($595 ballet flats) makes it financially prohibitive for most. British brand Nubian Skin has been doing an inclusive range of nudes in lingerie since 2014, as well as hosiery in an array of skin tones (now in plus sizes as well). There's also a need for a similar approach to dance apparel, such as that of indie brand Mahogany Blues, which currently has four hues and two more on the way, per Buzzfeed. Girald may have added a solid half-dozen more iterations of nude than you’d typically encounter when bra shopping, but this is just the start, really — though she remains vague about what’s next: “We have a secret plan. I can't talk about it. But we think it's game-changing.” Consider us very intrigued.