In the grand scheme of life, there are plenty (plenty) of issues and conundrums worse than not being able to find the perfect shoe. It’s especially vexing/head-scratching/eye roll-inducing, though, when the factor standing in your way is about color, specifically of the nude variety. After all, one size does not fit all when it comes to nude, but for some reason the majority of the fashion industry insists it does. But little by little, there have been small victories in redefining what the shade means. Christian Louboutin expanded its color range of skin-toned heels and flats, Naja, an ethical lingerie brand, launched bras and panties in seven shades, and now a UK shoe brand named Kahmune (pronounced like “commune”) is tossing its hat in the ring.
As with most inventions, Kahmune was founded by Jamela Acheampong out of necessity. “I was in search of items that matched my dark skin tone, but all I kept coming across were the same beige, cream, and tan shades,” says the founder. “It was overtly clear that ‘nude’ had a type.” Inspired by advice from her father—the thought that all stellar business ideas develop as a fix to some sort of problem—she got busy and the brand was born.
“From the beginning, it’s been about providing an option for all women,” explains the Ghanaian-American. “The idea of diversity, and more importantly, inclusivity, is still a huge problem in the beauty and fashion industries. The motivation was to provide nude shades to fit darker skin tones, but I thought it was important to ensure that all skin tones are represented.”
The collection currently offers 10 different colors ranging from deep to fair. Landing on each specific blend was a challenge Acheampong was happy to take on. “I spent hours researching skin tones across the world,” she says. “Settling on just 10 colors was no easy feat—I don’t think people realize the amount of diversity found in skin pigments. I found a few brands that were doing five or eight shades, but I didn’t think that was enough.”
Each color is named for a city (like South Sudan’s Juba and Nigeria’s Enugu) and handily displayed on her website alongside corresponding foundation shades so shoppers can get a feel for their closest match. And, much like the way cosmetic companies reliably speak about undertones, Acheampong devoted time to thinking about the individual colors going into her mixes. “For example, Goa and Bogota may look the same at first glance, but Bogota has more red undertones. The same goes for Rio and Gaborone,” she points out.
“Representation matters. Diversity matters. Inclusion matters,” continues Acheampong. “It’s important to recognize the larger meaning behind labeling ‘nude’ a specific color or only providing ‘nude’ items in certain shades. Does that mean those that are overlooked are because they are not worth recognizing? Or less beautiful?” she mused. “I’m tired of women being told they need to fit into a certain box or be a certain color. So many women are labeled as being too pale or too dark. And I personally do not subscribe to such stereotypes.” We couldn’t agree more.
Retailing between $200 and $250, two styles (a pump and a sandal) will be available for pre-order in February and begin shipping in March.
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