What does nude mean to you?
It’s a question that Toronto-based stylist Chantal Carter Taylor has asked women for years. Women she’s met while working in the fashion industry or chatted up at the mall.
“‘Naked,’ they’d say, and when I pressed them about what the colour ‘nude’ looks like, most women—regardless of the colour of their skin—would describe nude as beige, tan or pinkish. One of the saddest things was realizing that because so many women of colour believe nude means beige, they don’t think that nude lingerie should match their skin tone. And why should they, when it’s been marketed as beige for so long?”
It wasn’t the first time that Carter Taylor felt frustrated over the stunning lack of nude options for women of colour. She recalls countless moments working with models on photo shoots, having to make due with undergarments that didn’t properly match their skin tone. “I knew what nude meant, and what it does. It’s discreet, and it’s meant to be sheer underclothing. I learned to work with what I had, but I remember photographers asking me, ‘Why don’t you have a nude bra for your model?’ There just weren’t any options beside beige or black. And that’s when I realized, Wow, I’ve got to change this.”
So Carter Taylor decided to create her own options. And after six years of hard work, she’s turned her dream into a reality, launching Love & Nudes, Canada’s first nude lingerie brand designed for women of colour.
“I came up with the name Love & Nudes because I kept coming back to the idea of loving your nude and loving and respecting other people’s nudes,” says Carter Taylor.
Having launched earlier this month after a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $25,000, the gorgeous collection of lace and microfibre jersey bras and panties have been flying off shelves. In shades of Honey Love, Espresso Empress, Knockout Nutmeg and Butterscotch Beauty, each item ranges from $35 to $95. She’s also created a tool to help you find the perfect shade for your skin tone, and a list of foundations from different makeup brands to make matching even easier.
In addition to the online boutique, Love & Nudes will also be available for the first time at The Black Owned Summer Pop-Up Market on Sunday May 21 at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto.
But Love & Nudes is not just about bras and underwear. “It’s about promoting and cherishing your skin tone and celebrating who we are, as we are,” says Carter Taylor. “And lingerie is a vehicle to promote this goal. Women of colour always are in the shadows or background. This line is about bringing us to the forefront and allowing us to live boldly and loudly just the way we are.”
That message of empowerment is evident right down to the very stitching of the collection.
After years of dreaming about creating a nude lingerie line, Carter Taylor drafted a business plan and decided to make it happen. She reached out to fashion startup accelerator MSH District on the advice of Joanna Griffiths, the creator of Knix Wear. “It stands for Make Shit Happen. It’s an ideation company that helps people with ideas for inspiring products bring them to life, and from there it was history,” says Carter Taylor.
As she began working with MSH District, Carter Taylor found a manufacturing company in Colombia that seemed like a perfect fit to create her line. “When I first met with the women behind the company, we really connected. Our philosophies completely aligned and I appreciated how they were working to empower their own community. But when I found out that they work with single mothers, that was really it for me. I’m also one, and I know how difficult it can be for a single mother to create her own opportunity,” says Carter Taylor.
We recently visited our partners in Colombia where our bras & panties are being produced. They focus on hiring single mothers (Chantal, the founder was a single mother too) and give their employees fair working conditions. Knowing these products were made under these conditions makes this even more meaningful. Look out, look out, stock will be available this spring where you will be able to #ownyourtone #Loveandnudes #intimates
As she looks at her new collection just weeks after its launch, Carter Taylor is proud to be part of a movement that promotes the beauty of difference.
She also notes that it’s completely changed her morning routine.
“I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve been rushing to get ready in the morning and I’ve had to change my outfit because I was wearing a bra that didn’t work. That’s not the case any more. I’ve got the perfect shade for me.”