Written by Andrew Seale

Chantal Carter Taylor wants to talk about being nude; because nude’s not what nude used to be, it’s not the “beige” colour fashion media loved to call nude when it became trendy. No, it’s skin tone, that’s nude, says Taylor, that’s the inclusive definition we all need to recognize. 

And that’s the definition Taylor is embracing with Love and Nudes, a Toronto fashion startup producing skin tone intimates for women of a variety of colours.

“The brand is about celebrating the beauty of diversity,” explains Taylor. “I want the products I create to be a vehicle to promote self-love and acceptance and just cherishing your skin tone and who we are as a people – we’re all beautiful whatever skin tone we have.”

The concept stems from Taylor’s frustrations as a fashion stylist. Working with models, there was always an expectation they would wear nude bras and underwear that wouldn’t show or distract from the clothes they were hired to wear.

“The problem was that wasn’t available for people with deeper skin tone colours,” says Taylor. “It really bothered me and wouldn’t go away.” It was something Taylor had struggled with personally, she was constantly exposed to all these designs she couldn’t wear. So she took to painting bras and panties with fabric paint that matched her own skin tone.

“It was horrible,” she says, laughing. It was crusty and made the material brittle. “I didn’t care because I wanted the look.”

But then she saw an online petition calling on bra manufacturers to be more inclusive with their nude coloured intimates. Taylor didn’t plan on waiting around for change. She approached MSH District (Make Sh*t Happen) a fashion startup fund, with the idea.

“They really helped me flesh it out,” she said. They worked together from ideation to the launch of her product, helping with design, sourcing fabrics, connecting with manufacturers in Colombia and business model development.

Chantal Carter Taylor - Love and Nudes“I realized that what I wanted to do by creating this intimates line was more than about just being able to wear fashion the way I wanted it,” says the entrepreneur. “Of course, it was still a big part of it, but it was also about people of colour being acknowledged.” Through her research she found that two-thirds of the world’s population has a darker skin tone, yet it was an utterly underserved market. “European skin tones are always the default.”

“(MSH) really helped me build my confidence,” says Taylor. It was enough to push her out into the world, to help her realize that age-old adage that all entrepreneurs seem to embrace: if you want something done you have to do it yourself. 

“Why am I going to sit here and wait for bra manufacturers to make this who don’t really know anything about me and what my struggles are as a person of colour?” she says. “We need to do things for ourselves…. to understand ourselves – (then) we can power ourselves economically.”

Photos: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)