12 April 2016

Nude - For All?

Did you know that in fashion terminology, 'nude' is implied to mean a universal skin tone that is supposed to suit everyone. Originally, it only existed as a paleish-pink shade with warm undertones - not very universal is it? During the 1920's and 30's, this 'nude' tone became very popular for the production of undergarments and despite the movement and modernisation of society up to this point, surspringly is still used today in the fashion industry to sell to consumers as the ideal and 'universal' tone for all. See below how many designers use the term 'nude' vaguely to suit all needs of consumers, yet... it's been defined under such narrow terms that consumers beyond the tones of the paleish-pink to orange palettes find it difficult to find their definition of 'nude' in their natural composition and therefore as a colour, 'nude' is very much so loaded with prejudice.

Whether it be a bodysuit, a pair of shoes or even socks that should come to being as close to their skin tone as possible, it's almost impossible. By describing any single tone as a nude (which is implying the appearance of nudity) limits its definition and still, so many brands, luxury and other fail to truly recognise the elephant in the room when it comes to their target audience and their potential audience, which could be double, even tripled in size if they just consider the expansion of what it means to have a 'nude' piece. 

Stella McCartney, Alberta Ferretti, Derek Lam
Recently, popular luxury shoe brand Christian Louboutin announced and released additional pieces to their 'nude shoe' collection with their new ballerina flats range, which include more nude tones to cater to all consumers and the fashion consumers are eating it up, hopefully the rest of the industry follow suit. The impact of this release makes it an important issue of racism in the industry, which seems to be an issue of dicussion that is there, but just not really touched due to the sensitivity of it. It's so rare for any luxury brand to go as far as Louboutin to accommodate universally, with the ideal of the 'universal nude' being deemed too exclusive and racist. However, Louboutin has explained before that 'nude is not a colour, but a concept' and if nude is supposed to look natural and fit anyones complexion, then just why are so many skin tones traditionally left out in the minds of the fashion industry? Louboutin has explained that his decision to expand his nude range was when a point was made by a member of the team that 'the concept of nude is only ever in beige, and that isn't my skin it's only one tone.' It was only then that he realised that nude should be seen as a concept, not a shade.

The issues with the perceptive of the nude tone is that it is so different for everyone that it becomes a whirlwind of what is right and what isn't. Designer Pamella Roland has stated that to her, 'nude is a group of elegant shades but man specific shades. It is impossible to describe a single shade. As a term, it's believed to be too generic and for a designer it may mean one thing, but for a consumer, it means more - it's a literal understanding. From here, one can expand on the issue of the beauty industry, as well as the health industry - band-aids for example have been a topic of heavy debate due to the limited shades available for their bandages - if the issue of racism and skin tone has moved from something like the fashion industry into an industry that is the very meaning of survival, it is clearly an issue that should be addressed.

While not the first designer/brand to realise the misuse of the term 'nude', Louboutin is  one of the most prominent names in the industry, alongside Stuart Weitzman who have worked to renovate the word 'nude' into a more inclusive definition. In applauding Louboutin's movement though, one shouldn't forget that the industry is still lacking in representation of models and individuals of colour so this is barely a step in the right direction for the industry. Somewhere along the lines of writing this, it would have been interesting to add in the conceptualisation of Kanye West's collection, who has utilised the 'nude' tone to a new level, however we won't go into him, or his collection, for reasons. Just enjoy what Louboutin has to offer.

And if you have about $900 to spare, go get yourself a pair.