Björn Borg's New Underwear Line Proves "Nude" Is Not a Color


Underwear brand Björn Borg didn't decide to release their new "Skin Collection" on Monday, March 21, just because. Instead, its chose to launch their new inclusive line of nude undies on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as a tribute to human rights and equality for all.

"Underwear was for the longest time one of our core businesses and we take a pride in offering the best possible fit and quality," Björn Borg's Head of PR Pernilla Johansson said in an email. "However, we have never made 'nude' underwear and reflected over the fact that this is a concept that traditionally is targeted towards caucasians only. Beige and blush is the norm."

Björn Borg/Instagram

It's true: When it comes to men's and women's undergarments, a wide range of skin tones (aka ones that aren't white) are often underrepresented. As the brand explains, "so-called 'nude' underwear traditionally only caters to white-skinned individuals despite the fact that an 84% majority of the world's population has a skin tone other than the standard 'nude' color."

Read more: What It Looks Like When the Shopping World Realizes People Come in All Colors

The six shades chosen are based off of the Fitzpatrick scale, a skin classification system developed in 1975. There are six levels (from light to dark brown) — based on genetics, tanning and reaction to the sun — that correlate with the hues. In other words, we match or fall somewhere on the scale between two of the six shades.

"Yes, it is certainly true that there are more than six shades of skin," Johansson said. "However, we hope that we with these six shades have covered enough shades for most people to find something close to their own natural skin tone."

It is not the first time we've seen an inclusive nude collection from a lingerie brand. In 2015, Nubian Skin's line of nude underwear and bras for women of color — and the message of inclusivity it sent — went viral, and the product eventually made its way to Nordstrom shelves.

"I think that a lot of people are starting to realize that 'nude' isn't just one [color], and a few other brands are making progress on this front too," Amy Lodder, a Nubian Skin marketing executive, told Mic at the time.

Nubian Skin is just one of the companies that's been working to make products such as shoes, makeup and pantyhose available for a group of people many of their companies routinely exclude, or simply don't consider at all. 

Some folks, like fashion and beauty blogger Ofunne Amaka, have taken the issue into their own hands entirely. Amaka created the Instagram account CocoaSwatches in order to show how specific makeup products look on dark skin. "We've all probably experienced similar things, and feel like we're being ignored," she told Mic. "So I think it's vital to create a community around that." 

With their new line, Björn Borg is speaking directly to this community and supplying them with an alternative — granted it's only six shades, four of which are rather lighter in pigmentation. While this line is more inclusive than most underwear collections, it still has a long way to go to in terms of being 100% representative. 

March 23, 2016, 10:10 a.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.