You never know how ill-fitting something is until you find your size (or your colour). This is more apparent after attending the recent launch of underwear brand Gugu Intimates, and trying on the “first African premium skin coloured underwear brand for brown skin tones”. With a newfound awareness of why we need more inclusive basics like underwear; I looked down at my chest, through my white shirt, to my brown skin unintentionally unmatched against my pale “nude” bra. And the revelation was real.
Despite us actively being instrumental in creating our environment and the products in it, it’s absurd to think that not much in this manmade world was made for us. Only now, after centuries of work put into developing fashion, the entertainment industry, beauty products and more, are our needs as black people (hell, pretty much all marginalised groups) included and catered for — still only to certain extents — in these markets.
“For many years, the beauty and hair space has treated women of colour and our specific beauty needs as an afterthought and a special case to be handled when it suits the needs for sales,” Afrobella founder Patrice Grell Yursik was quoted as saying in an article about Rihanna’s new make-up line Fenty, lauded for catering to all shades, particularly dark brown skin tones often neglected by beauty brands.
Fenty isn’t the only “experience” creating breakthroughs for us in 2017. Hit TV show Insecure was praised for its “inclusive lighting” techniques correcting a tech-sophisticated world that has and still mis-lights us. I digress. So, to celebrate our diverse skin tones and body shapes, plus the products that complement them, such as brands like Gugu Intimates and its empowering New Naked range, we invited some of our favourite creatives (Nkulsey Masemola, Lisa Ally, Boitumelo Rametsi, Nolwazi Tusini and Elle Rose van der Burg) to our Glow Up party. This is not an ad, this is appreciation. — Stefanie Jason, ed-in-chief
Photography: Lauren Mulligan
Production: Stefanie Jason
Creative direction: Lee-Ann Orton
Assistant: Aimee-Claire Smith
Make-up artist: Alex Botha of Lampost (using Dermalogica products)
Graphics: Tiger Maremela
Models: Nkulsey Masemola, Lisa Ally, Boitumelo Rametsi, Nolwazi Tusini and Elle Rose van der Burg
*Special thanks to Gugu Intimates
*This article has been edited to reflect model Elle Rose van der Burg’s name change – she was previously known as Luke van der Burg*