Fashion Industry Trending Toward Inclusivity Despite Previously Lagging

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Fashion and beauty industries start to make more progress towards a wider variety of nude color tones.

Medardo Perez, Staff Writer

Historically rooted in white standards of beauty and femininity, the fashion and beauty industries are making a conscious effort working towards inclusivity and diversity. Existing brands continue to expand to cater to the needs of consumers of color, and some consumers, too eager to wait for a change, are taking the initiative to mend the color-gap, creating their own products and brands for all skin-tones.

For people of color, purchasing foundation has never been as easy as walking into a department store, choosing one bottle out of the endless array of bottles labeled “medium-sand” and walking out. Fortunately, makeup brands catering specifically to people of color are sprouting in every direction. 

Fashion Fair Cosmetics was the first to pioneer a cosmetics line for women of color. Fashion Fair Cosmetics was founded in 1973 by the late Eunice W. Johnson. Johnson had witnessed models at the Ebony Fashion Fair Show mixing foundations for a skin-matching hue and was inspired to create her own cosmetics line after being refuted by pre-existing beauty brands.

Supermodel Iman followed suit in 1994 and launched her own brand Iman Cosmetics. Since then, brands like Black Opa and Black Up have emerged in support of makeup for people of color. Other established cosmetic brands like MAC, NARS, Bobbi Brown and Makeup Forever are some of the few brands of their kind who have carried shades to match everyone.  

Recently, companies have started providing guilt-free opportunities to test out makeup, skincare and hair products made especially for people of color through beauty subscription boxes like Essence Beauty Box, Cocotique, CurlBox, Curlkit and Onyx — monthly subscription services targeted at people with textured hair and deeper-skin tones, with samples addressing their every need.

The fashion industry is making slower progress than its cosmetics counterpart, but it shows promise. Ask yourself, why is nude commonly portrayed as beige? Whereas this disregard for diversity in skin-tone plagued fashionistas and beauty lovers in the past, now brands are making it possible for anyone to find their unique shade. Christian Louboutin launched the Nudes Collection in 2013 — introducing a selection of shoes available in five shades for the light, the deep and the in-between. Similarly, London-based entrepreneur Ade Hassan created her own line of lingerie and hosiery in 2014 called Nubian Skin. With four shades of brown ranging from Café au Lait to “Berry,” Hassan redefined lingerie for women, allowing them an intimate embrace of their color.    

In launching his collection, Louboutin expressed an understanding of the need to tailor his brand to his consumer-base and the importance of inclusivity in his designs.

“I have clients from every continent and want to make them happy,” Louboutin wrote on his website.

The increasing shift towards fostering stronger relationships with consumers of color by promoting different shades of beauty proves the fashion and cosmetic industries have developed an awareness of the blatant disregard for the needs of people with deep complexions. However, just as increasing racial diversity on the runway is a gradual process, the same can be expected for increasing a greater range in the products distributed off the runway that cater to a racially diverse public. Fortunately, progress is being made.

Email Medardo Perez at [email protected]