For many years, the fashion industry appeared to be labouring under the illusion that “nude” and “neutral” were colours. Or, more accurately, that they were one colour. You know the shade we mean: that sort of pale-peachy-beigey-sandy hue most often found adorning Kim Kardashian and deeply tasteful bridesmaids’ dresses. That might be close to some people’s “nude” or “natural” skin tone, sure – but it’s sure as hell not everyone’s.
And that’s frustrating, because a nude that corresponds with and complements your complexion can be one of the hardest-working colours in your wardrobe. Properly neutral underwear is essential if you want to wear thin, light-coloured clothing, while nude shoes go with absolutely everything (and possess frankly miraculous leg-lengthening properties). But until recently, if your skin didn’t fit broadly within that pale-peachy-beigey-sandy spectrum, you were generally out of luck.
Now, however, a new British brand is launching a range of nude heels in 10 different shades – so whatever your skin tone, you’ll be able to find a shoe colour that fits. Kahmune, the brainchild of Ghanaian-American Jamela Acheampong, offers two different styles of shoe (a classic heeled pump and a simple sandal) in hues that take inspiration from different parts of the world.
“Kahmune is a play on of the word 'commune' which is derived from the word community. I wanted a name that signified unity,” Acheampong, who lives in between London and the US, tells Stylist.co.uk. “The fashion and beauty industries have been built on exclusion and I personally believe it is high time we changed that. Kahmune is about being inclusive. All shades are beautiful!”
Rather brilliantly, the different tones are matched with popular foundation colours, to help you identify your perfect pair. (Why has nobody thought of this before?) So at the darkest end of the spectrum, you’ve got Juba, “the melanin supreme of South Sudan”, which corresponds closely to MAC foundation in NW58, L.A. Girl Dark Chocolate, and Black Up Teinte 18. At the opposite end is Edinburgh, which more closely resembles MAC’s N4.
Just like foundation, subtle colour differences matter when it comes to finding the perfect nude, says Acheampong. For example, the Goa and Bogota shoes may look the same at first glance, but Bogota has more red undertones, while the same goes for Rio and Garborone.
Acheampong didn’t set out to be a designer: her background is in finance and accounting, and before launching Kahmune she worked in sales for an American financial tech company in London. Her “a-ha” moment came when she was browsing social media for a new nude lipstick.
“I noticed that a search for ‘nude’ clothes and accessories always drew the same results,” she says. “Everything was either tan, beige, or cream. None of these colours are nude on my complexion!”
Kahmune isn’t the first brand to offer nude shoes in a multiplicity of different shades. Christian Louboutin expanded the neutral colours in his range of flat pumps last year, and Acheampong says she discovered a couple of other brands selling “five or eight [different] shades”. However, she says she couldn’t find enough variety to represent the many different skin tones found around the globe. “I decided in that moment that Kahmune would be a much needed solution to the problem.”
The journey from sales to shoe designer hasn’t always been an easy one. “To say this process has been tough is a huge understatement,” says Acheampong. “I’ve spent the majority of the past year focusing 110% of my energy into this venture. When you’re starting a business there is no schedule; there’s no such thing as weekends.”
But it’s the prospect of providing a fashionable solution for women like herself that keeps Acheampong motivated. “My shoes are for any woman who has ever felt as if their options were limited, or like their beauty didn’t belong,” she says. “I want my shoes to be for all. Tall or short, curvy or skinny, dark or light – it doesn’t matter to me.
“Let’s be clear, though,” she adds with a laugh, “if Beyoncé, Rihanna or Solange wanted a pair of Kahmunes I would be more than happy to oblige!”
Kahmune’s shoes will be available for pre-order in February and start shipping in March, and will be priced between £200 and £250. You can see the full range here.
Images: Rex Features, Asos, Kahmune.