If you haven’t heard about the beauty launch of the year, then you’re slacking. Big time. On September 8th, Rihanna unveiled the first installment of her makeup line Fenty Beauty which featured highlights, contours, and the jaw-dropping forty shades of foundation. Many wouldn’t understand why this was such a big deal but, to the melanin-infused, it was like Christmas morning. For decades, women of color have been regulated to the one or two “darker” foundations by makeup brands like Almay and It Cosmetics. Completely ignoring the vast array of shades and tones which (oddly) have been incorporated in the lighter foundations. Now they’re trying to catch up. Women of color do not only come in two shades of brown, so why does the beauty industry ignore the growing $1.3 trillion market? Beauty and fashion blogger Jackie Aina said it best.
White businesses get funded based on potential and black businesses get funded based on proof.
The same applies to the fashion industry. When something works it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone because you fear the risk of failure. Sometimes you got to take a risk. Rihanna did just that with her twenty shades of tan to deep foundations which have been sold out for weeks. Designers are worried about the additional cost of fabric and money instead of how they’re neglecting a larger market. It’s deeper than just size, it’s which demographic designers prefer to cater to in their stores. Most make clothes with the hourglass figure in mind like Salma Hayek and Dita Von Teese which has been the ideal look for decades. Ironically, it’s the least common body type with only 8% of the female population. The most common body type is the rectangle with 46% of the population like Gwen Stefani and Nicole Kidman. The fashion industry’s solution to the problem was vanity sizing. By playing on our need to feel good about ourselves, retailers label clothes a few sizes smaller instead of designing them to be inclusive for all body types. Shoppers are now retaliating for not being represented in stores. They’re rejecting stores like Victoria’s Secret and are demanding large retailers to expand their sizes. Some are starting to make a change, but how long will it take for the rest of the industry to catch up? Just don’t be surprised if Rihanna beats you to it.