image: Louboutin

image: Louboutin

Imagine being able to shop for “nude” undergarments, hosiery, and even garments and shoes, in a hue that perfectly matches your skin tone. Heist Studios wants to make that a reality. The London-based bodywear brand launched The Nude Project this past month, an initiative aimed at creating “a totally inclusive” nude palette, to help make that possible. 

The project, according to Heist’s founder, Edzard van der Wyck, 35 (who founded London-based Heist after his wife complained of a lack of luxury hosiery brands offering comfort and style), started with a simple inquiry: If cosmetic brands offer more than forty shades of foundation, then why are there so few shades of “nude” in fashion?

This question spawned The Nude Project, in which van der Wyck and his team have set out to create a palette based on participants’ photographs of themselves submitted as part of project (per Heist, the photos are not stored). The palette will, in turn, inform a “much larger range of nude tights,” which Heist says are slated for retail in 2018.

While the project – and its most immediate result, a more inclusive selection of hosiery from Heist – stands to help the company and its Italian-made tights make a name for itself in the industry, the impact of the project will, ideally, extend beyond Heist. In what is being likened to “a broader study on diversity,” Heist will make The Nude Project’s palette available to the fashion industry at large, in hopes that it will encourage brands “to open their product ranges and cater to a more ethnically diverse population.”

The premise upon which Heist’s project is based is something that at least a couple of other brands have begun toying with. For instance, Bianca Miller, another London-based entrepreneur, began selling a line of nude tights that comes in 45 different shades. She launched her eponymous label in 2014.

But maybe most well-known is Christian Louboutin’s Nude collection. The Paris-based footwear brand first launched a range of nude patent shoes, in 2013, in an attempt to “celebrate the beauty of different skin tones.” Since then, Louboutin has continued to build on this collection, adding more colors in 2015, then even more in 2016 – for a total of 7 shades. All the while, it has supplemented the collection with new silhouettes. As of now, there are 4 different styles, ranging from ballet-like flats to Louboutin’s trademark sky-high stilettos.

As for whether this means that “fashion industry [is] finally waking up to the fact that humans come in all colors,” as the Financial Times’ Jo Ellison questioned recently, that is a difficult question to answer. However, given the rise of niche brands in just about every corner of the fashion industry, which are improving upon the standard offerings of existing products and services, it is becoming increasingly difficult for established brands to merely sit by and watch, instead of actively engaging – when it comes to diversity in terms of sizing, color, and other design elements.  

Moreover, why would brands not want to serve more people with their products and do so in an enhanced way? As Ellison noted, “The imperative of diversity aside, it simply makes good business sense.”

It will be interesting to see what brands – if any – will want to get their hands on Heist’s palette come 2018.