Beauty in Real Life: Naja’s Nude For All and X Swimwear

A few weeks ago, I watched A Reason to Dance, an episode of Arts in Context, which airs on my local PBS station. The short film profiles China Smith, the founder of Austin’s Ballet Afrique, a local dance company that focuses on the African Diaspora. In one scene, young girls sit on the studio’s floor alongside their mothers and apply foundation to their ballet shoes in an effort to match the tones of their skin. As Smith explains, ballet shoes lengthen the line of a dancer’s legs, and since the shoes come in two shades, palest pink and darkest black, many dancers have trouble finding a pair that actually match their skin color. So Smith and her company improvise by creating their own shoes with drugstore makeup. It’s a way around the strict confines of the dance world, and also a comment on the state of fashion in 2016.

Naja, a line of underwear dedicated to changing women’s lives, just released the Nude For All collection, which features nude pieces in seven different colors to match a variety of skin tones.  Catalina Girald created the line after seeing gymnast Gabby Douglas compete in the 2012 Olympics while wearing a bandage that didn’t match her skin tone. For decades, “nude” has existed as a color representing a definite white skin tone, when in reality, nude should reflect the color of the person who wears it. Many women prefer nude pieces to create a basic and seamless foundation under our clothes, and finally, a line exists that recognizes the diversity of its customers.

Along the same lines, X Swimwear founder Sarah Krasley has created a collection of custom swimwear dedicated to each woman’s unique measurements and level of preferred modesty. In her Open Letter to Women Buying Bathing Suits, Krasley details the difficult process that is bathing suit shopping and hopes to make it better for her customers. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and Krasley understands. For now, you have to visit her studio in Brooklyn to be fitted for a suit, but hopefully they’ll become more accessible in the future.

There’s the old saying that “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and the creators of both Naja and X Swimwear have tapped into two separate gaps in women’s fashion. The makers of ballet shoes and Ace bandages could learn a thing or two from these innovative brands.

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