The Nude Project: Heist to crowdsource a skin-tone color palette index, with free and open access to all companies.

LONDON — Perhaps the most astonishing revelation about nude undergarments and apparel is that, compared to, say, the cosmetics industry — of which there’s an overabundance of nude options — in clothing, there are only a handful. Ask any woman, and you’ll quickly realize there’s a problem there that needs solving.

Of any company, London-based tights brand Heist might be the best one equipped to address this market void. As CEO Toby Darbyshire explained it, the reason why nude undergarments aren’t truly nude is more owed to a lack of information, rather than a lack of trying. In speaking to Lean Luxe, he described it as a “practical hurdle” and put it very simply: “We [the brands] don’t actually know what nude is.”

In speaking to Lean Luxe, he described it as a “practical hurdle” and put it very simply: “We [the brands] don’t actually know what nude is.”

He continued: “We can take a stab at a range of colors, but we have no idea what the distribution of skin tones is. What are the Pantone shades that are important, and how do you transfer those from Pantone into fabric dyes from rayon to cotton to cashmere?”

This line of thought captures the motive behind the London-based tights company’s new endeavor, The Nude Project, an undertaking that seeks to innovate on two vital fronts. The first is the concept itself: The project is Heist’s effort to crowd-source its way to a skin-tone color palette database, the goal of which is to create a ‘true’ nude color index. The second (and more surprising) innovation here is how they’ll be treating this inform: Not only have they decided to open up access to this database to other companies — but they’re doing it entirely for free.

The rationale behind this, though implicit, is clear: Free and open access to the database could set Heist up as the go-to source for skin tone swatches, potentially bring far-reaching benefits to both Heist and the industry more broadly.

How this aligns with Heist’s business motivations.

  • Darbyshire said that Heist is not merely a tights brand, but a bodywear brand. Tights are the first product that they’ve used to introduce themselves to the market. It’s merely the first of up to three future pillars of the business. Having the skin tone database on hand will help internally as they expand the product line.
  • The database will firstly address their internal needs, but in opening the results up to other emerging brands as a low cost way for them to solve their problems as well, they’ll be helping to correct a marketplace wrong. “That kind of seems like a bit of a no brainer to us,” said Darbyshire.
  • The logic: “If this were the technology world, rather than the fashion world, this would just be a standard way of opening sourcing something that has an obvious societal benefit.”
  • The timeline is indefinite. The goal is to on-board one million entries by Christmas. Just two days after they’d launched The Nude Project, they’d hit 50,000.
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