If you're what a white novelist would describe as mocha, caramel, chestnut, or any other strange food combination, you probably have a difficult time finding hosiery and lingerie that match your skin tone. When traditional ideas of "nude" mean very fair skin, many Black women are left out. That's where Nubian Skin comes in. Nubian Skin caters to the fashion needs of brown-skinned women in search for truly nude lingerie. I have personally experienced the frustration of trying to find the perfect match for my skin, so I was super happy to have the chance to talk with Nubian Skin's Ade Hassan about representation in the fashion world and challenging "traditional" markets.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For Harriet: The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines nude as “having the color of a white person's skin.” How does Nubian Skin combat this?
Ade Hassan: Nubian Skin aims to re-define ‘nude’ by recognising that everybody’s nude is different. Nude isn’t just the colour of one person’s skin – it is the colour of YOUR skin!
FH: Do you plan to introduce more shades as you expand?
AH: We don’t currently have any plans to introduce more shades, but it is something we would definitely consider if the demand was there!
FH: What does traditional “nude” lingerie say about standards of beauty?
AH: I can’t speak to what it says about standards of beauty, but it definitely speaks volumes as to who the majority of players believe are their market. Unless you have decision makers with the perspective of, “oh this doesn’t work with my nude”, then a company is unlikely to realise that their customers might feel that way.
FH: In what other ways do you think clothes are used as a tool to enforce society’s beauty standards?
AH: I think significant progress has been made in recent years with more brands emerging that focus on under-served markets, which is such a positive trend.
FH: Any interest in expanding to other types of nude clothing/accessories (slips, camisoles, corsets, etc)?
AH: We certainly have some ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space!
FH: Was there a specific event that gave you the idea to start Nubian Skin?
AH: Nubian Skin was born out of frustration of not being able to find what I wanted in shops, so I decided to create it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt the same way!
FH: How would you like to see standards of beauty challenged in fashion?
AH: It would be great if one day everybody was fairly represented in the fashion world. Being able to look at a magazine and see an image that you can relate to is an incredibly empowering thing.
FH: What is your favorite item from the Nubian Skin line?
AH: I wear the essential t-shirt bra almost every day!
FH: What do you love about working for Nubian Skin?
AH: I love that my vision has come to life and that I’m able to solve an everyday issue for so many women! The lovely e-mails we get just saying ‘thank you’ makes all of the hard work worthwhile!
FH: Where do you see Nubian Skin in the future?
AH: I would absolutely love it if Nubian Skin was a household name and the go-to brand for Women of Colour. I can’t wait for the day that any woman can walk into her local Nordstrom or John Lewis and pick up a pair of Nubian Skin tights or that perfect nude bra!
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Joneka Percentie is a junior studying Mass Media Communications, Africana Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. When she’s not working with SPARK Movement, or tweeting @jpercentie, she enjoys singing, dancing, and sleeping. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org