Why Shobha Philips is On a Mission to Make "Nude" Bras Way More Inclusive
Ever found yourself super frustrated that you can't actually find a nude bra that matches your skin tone? As a woman of color, I know I've personally tried out all sorts of alternates to nude — gray, blue, purple — none of which have anything in common with the color of my skin, but do seem to hide well under a white tee.
Recently, fashion-forward designers and entrepreneurs have sought to revolutionize the definition of nude by offering more inclusive everything — from shoes to slips to bras. Shobha Philips is one such pioneer, and her company Proclaim is at the forefront of the nude revolution.
Anjelika Temple here, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Brit + Co, longtime wearer of incorrectly-colored-nude undergarments, and Proclaim's newest customer ;) Read on to learn all about Proclaim founder Shobha Philips' story and mission, and prepare to look at "nude" in a whole different light.
Anjelika Temple: To kick things off, tell us a little more about where you're from.
Shobha Philips: I am from St. Louis, born and raised. I went to school in Minnesota where I studied Marketing and International Business. I was never a fan of Midwest winters and escaped to San Francisco for 10 years. I recently made the move to LA to continue to grow the business.
AT: Have you always been interested in fashion?
SP: I have always loved fashion. I'm a very visual person and like playing with colors and patterns. I also appreciate the unique power of clothes to transform people and tell a story.
AT: Tell us more about your career path before founding Proclaim.
SP: I was in corporate positions in supply chain and market research before starting Proclaim. While I was working full time, I was researching the fashion industry and manufacturing on nights and weekends. It took almost two years of researching, reaching out to people and making connections to bring Proclaim to life. As an outsider in the industry and being a small player, it wasn't easy to find the right suppliers and production partners. Plus, with my vision of creating an ethical, transparent supply chain, the process was even more complicated.
AT: Okay, we're ready for the origin story! Tell us all about Proclaim. What is your WHY?
SP: I started Proclaim because I was tired of not being able to find a nude bra that matched my brown skin as an Indian woman. For years the fashion industry has chosen to ignore me and millions of women that don't have the skin color that is ubiquitously known as nude. It was something I was aware of for as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to be a part of the movement to revolutionize nude, but if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right. Beyond inclusivity, there are so many issues in the fashion industry that are long overdue for change, specifically its negative effects on people and the environment. Proclaim is ethically made, inclusively designed intimates for women of all shapes, sizes and skin tones. Our pieces are made from eco-friendly fabrics and made locally here in Los Angeles.
AT: What gave you the confidence to take the leap and disrupt the definition of "nude"?
SP: I always knew I wanted to start my own company and once I decided this was the problem I wanted to tackle, I couldn't wait to get started. I couldn't fall asleep that night, I just had so many ideas running through my head. I think that was when I knew this was really my passion. There is never a right time to start, and it definitely felt scary, but at some point, I realized you just have to take the leap. I've learned you have to get comfortable with that uneasy feeling in entrepreneurship because it comes up all the time.
AT: I've read all about how ethical production and sustainability are core to your brand. Tell us more about how on earth you turn plastic bottles into super soft bras.
SP: It was important to me that environmental impact was considered with each decision I made. I choose to use eco-friendly fabrics including Tencel, which is made from eucalyptus bark, and Recycled Polyester, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. In short, plastic water bottles labeled with the #1 on the bottom are the same chemical make-up as polyester, which is called PET, or technically known as polyethylene terephthalate. I think it's important to note that this material is BPA-free. In the recycling process, the bottles are sterilized and turned into small flakes. These flakes are then heated and pulled to form strings of yarn which are knit into our recycled polyester (rPET) fabric. Our fabric is woven and dyed in the Los Angeles area.
AT: What do you love most about making things and putting them into the world?
SP: I love making something tangible that people can feel good about and feel good in. Hearing from customers that they've found their new favorite bra is probably the best feeling.
Favorite Quote: Question everything.
Trivia About You: I have a twin sister.
Go-To Karaoke Song: Say My Name
Favorite Trend: Conscious consumerism
Late Night Snack: Popcorn
Currently Reading: The news
AT: What does your support system look like? How does your community help you thrive?
SP: I've met so many other female founders in the fashion industry and they have been my support system through all of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Knowing women who are going through the same things who I can bounce ideas off of, get advice from, or just vent is everything. I would not be where I am today without the tribe of women I have met along the way.
AT: On that note, who are some other badass fashion babes our readers should know about?
SP: There are not many visible women of color in the ethical fashion space. Dominique Drakeford and Aditi Mayer are two women who have amazing style and are using their platforms to bring awareness to things like ecological equity and social justice in the fashion industry – issues that affect women of color.
AT: Back to bras! I love that your line is totally wireless. What made you make that decision? Have you found that women are starting to ditch traditional underwire? (I know I have!)
SP: I am all for wire free bras. I think in the last few years women have really questioned and rejected the ubiquitous underwire, padded bra that we've all been told we need to wear to be desirable or attractive. Women are embracing styles that highlight their natural shape and above all are comfortable.
AT: When someone wears a Proclaim bra for the first time, how do you want them to feel?
SP: Seen. For many women, it is their first nude bra that actually matches their skin tone or comes in their size (our sizing goes from S-3X). I also want women to feel good about wearing a bra that is ethically made.
AT: What's coming up next for Proclaim?
SP: More inclusive nudes! There are so many wardrobe staples that need to be made in everyone's skin tone.