Talking about racism feels like voluntarily walking through a minefield. I don’t want to inadvertently say the wrong while at the same time I feel like, as a white person, it is my responsibility to use my privilege and speak up against the injustices faced by people of color.
Conversations about race are big and heavy ones, yet, I have come to understand that it’s not just the big moves that make a difference. It’s the small moves we make towards inclusivity that also matter.
Years ago, I committed to never referring to shoes that were designed solely for caucasian skin as nude. It’s tone-deaf and insensitive on my part to call them as such. I certainly do not consider myself racist but I do admit to lacking awareness at times in my life when I have called them nude.
Exclusively calling shoes that match caucasian skin tone ‘nude’ is no different than Band-Aids only being caucasian flesh-toned or a peach-colored crayon ‘flesh’, like Crayola once did. Practices like this that seem innocuous and no-big-deal promote otherness, which is a concept that describes how minority or less powerful groups are positioned as inferior to dominant groups. It is a marker of difference that is imposed, not adopted. When you search for nude shoes at your favorite retailer and all the shoes are caucasian flesh-toned, that is otherness.
Nude Shoes for All Skin Tones
The good news is at many retailers when you search for nude shoes, things have mildly started to balance with a more diverse color range, but we’re still a far way from finding inclusivity. Thankfully, there are some retailers who have the matter into their own hands. Here are some of them, many of which are black-owned and women-based.
Kahmune [ com·mune ] is a luxury line offering an array of footwear styles designed to match the skin tones of ALL women. They have spent countless hours researching shades in order to ensure that they are able to serve the majority of complexions around the globe. At present, they offer our styles in 10 colors ranging from the fairest of skin tones to the darkest of brown. Their color palette is inspired by the diverse regions of the world. Each shade is named after the women whose skin tones have inspired them throughout this journey. Each style is named after a different woman who has played a pivotal role in the founder, Jamela A Acheampong’s, life.
After she couldn’t find the perfect nude shoe for her own skin as a black woman working in finance, Rebecca Allen launched her initial collection of five nude shades in a modern, timeless style. The company is women-based, the shoes are made in Brazil, and made in small batches. You can shop online or visit their NYC showroom.
Originally launched in 2013 with five hues, the Nudes collection by Christian Louboutin is now made up of eight Nude shades (and counting), ensuring that there’s something for every skin tone. The Nudes collection is and always has been an ode to inclusivity, regardless of skin color and now, of gender. Designed to elongate the leg, they add the perfect finish touch to any look.
African born and American raised, Jeneba Barrie, is an attorney and designer. Her shoe line boasts the most diverse range of nude shoe shades (13 and counting) which is the most on the market.
Barrie believes that “nude” shoes should match your skin-tone and she launched this brand with that objective in mind. Her product affords everyday women true nude versatility with pumps that can be worn from the boardroom to happy hour and even running errands around town.
Shop for Nude shoes
In addition to these great brands worthy of considering, I have shopped around for nude shoes for all skin tones. My hope in the future is when someone searches for nude shoes, a greater variety appears and that people stop assuming nude shoes mean shoes to match white skin tones. Yes, in the bigger picture of racial injustice, nude shoe colors seem at the bottom of the list, yet don’t discount these small efforts made towards racial equality as not being impactful.