Nubian Skin creator Ade Hassan found a hole in the lingerie market, and has filled that need with a line of products Beyoncé herself swears by.
So, what's it like being Beyoncé's underwear designer? According to Hassan, whose Nubian Skin bras and briefs "protected the modesty" of Beyoncé and her dancers throughout the Formation World Tour, it's pretty seamless.
Nubian Skin quickly became a groundbreaking brand when it debuted in 2014 by providing nude bras, underwear, tights — the works for women of color. It seems absurd, but up until Nubian Skin, it was unnecessarily difficult for women of color to find nude bras that weren't beige — the color that largely only matches the skin tone of white demographics. This shouldn't be necessary to point out to clothing brands, but it's not just white women looking to buy nude underwear. *facepalm*
Always having dreamt of being an entrepreneur but being stuck in a consulting job she hated, Hassan tells me that the second the idea for Nubian Skin came to mind, she texted a friend saying, "I figured out what I want to do when I grow up."
After years, and years, and years of never being able to find a nude bra, or going into a shop and asking for skin-tint and you’re basically given a beige bra," she says, "it’s sort of like a lightbulb went off."
She continues, "I went, ‘Oh, my goodness. You know what? That’s what I should do. I can’t find it anywhere, no one else seems to be doing this, and I know that there’s countless other women like me who have the same problem.’"
She was right. Hassan arranged her first Nubian Skin product photo shoot in 2014 and posted a photo from the shoot to Instagram that same week. That weekend, she went on vacation, and her phone blew up with follower notifications. What she didn't know then was she was in the beginning stages of going viral — a concept that, in 2014, was still pretty obscure. But as the follower count kept growing and growing, Hassan realized her good idea might have been more than just a good idea.
"I kept thinking, ‘Woah, 100 people care,’" she says, "Then at the end of that week, we were at 1,000. And at the end of four weeks, we were at 20,000." This was all before NubianSkin.com was even live. So the idea that Hassan had come up with while just searching for the perfect nude bra for herself ended up going viral, with news outlets wanting to interview her about the brand that didn't even have a live website yet.
"That was when I was like, ‘OK, you know what? This has taken on a life of its own, and there’s definitely something here,'" she says.
Outside her dream of being an entrepreneur, Hassan wanted to make women of color feel seen and validated through her products. She wanted to make their lives easier. Having her line worn by Beyoncé on the Formation World Tour was just an added bonus.
"My dream is that every woman of color can literally walk into a shop, and the same way that white women can walk into a shop and just pick up nude whatever — whether it’s a pair of tights, whether it’s a bra — that women of color can do the same, and it’s a non-issue," she says.
That's a pretty small ask, don't you think? But this has been a serious issue for women for color for a long time. That's why, for Hassan, it meant so much that Beyoncé elevated her work.
A lot of the looks on Beyoncé's Formation World Tour, as well as her and JAY-Z's On The Run II Tour, were see-through. So, she wore Nubian Skin products under the costumes.