Proclaim is an underwear line founded by Shobha Philips, that aims to bring skin tone-inclusive, sustainable, and comfortable options made in the US, after Shobha was tired of looking for ‘nude’ underwear that actually matched her skin tone. Their pieces are made with sustainably sourced and recycled materials like TENCEL (made from wood pulp from sustainably managed sources), and fiber made from 100% post-consumer, BPA-free recycled plastic water bottles.
How did Proclaim come to be? What is the story behind it?
I started Proclaim because I was tired of not being able to find a nude bra that matched my brown skin as a South Asian woman. For years, the fashion industry has chosen to ignore me and billions of women that do not have a skin color that matches the tone 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 it’s negative effects on people and the environment – which disproportionately affects people of color.
Globally, people of color are often exploited for cheap labor and their communities are dumping grounds for toxic chemicals and unsustainable land use. I started Proclaim to make create pieces that are inclusively designed for women of all skin tones and made with people and the planet in mind.
What is your professional background?
I studied marketing in school and had several corporate roles in marketing and supply chain before starting Proclaim. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In the early days, I was working full time and pouring myself into Proclaim on nights, weekends and really any spare moment I had.
Why was it important to have the label by inclusive and thoughtfully made? Can you share your journey with being eco-conscious?
To me, there was never a thought of building a brand any other way. Being a person of color and someone who is aware of the climate crisis we face, I knew I wanted to create a brand that can bring designs to life in a way that considers its impact.
I spent almost 2 years researching the industry and sustainable options for production before I launched Proclaim. I would say I am constantly learning when it comes to being eco-conscious, and I think that is important. There is not one solution to sustainability. I’m always learning and making changes both personally and for my business. I try to be open to change.
What materials do you use and why?
We use sustainable fabrics for our collections including Tencel, Organic Cotton and Hemp blends, and REPREVE Recycled Polyester. I love discovering and experimenting with new fabrics. I think a diverse approach to materials is important because at the end of the day there are pluses and minuses for every fabric and material we use. There is not one perfect fabric as they all use different natural resources and have different outputs into the environment. We do small batch production in Los Angeles and focus on making just the right amount to meet our community’s needs, without overproducing or wasting materials. We try to make pieces that last and will be used for years to come.
What kind of change do you hope to contribute to in your industry?
I hope it becomes the norm that the fashion industry considers people of color both in how they design and their environmental effect on our communities.
What are three resources (books podcasts movies etc.) that helped you in your learning journey with sustainability?
The documentary, The True Cost, was a real eye opener for me. I saw it when I was in the process of planning my own business and it made me even more sure of the path I was taking towards sustainability. I read the New York Times most days to stay generally informed about our planet. I also look at sources like Good on You when I am researching brands to purchase from.
What are three sustainable brands you love?
Patagonia has been a longtime favorite as someone who loves the outdoors. I love Mara Hoffman’s transparency, and I recently discovered Grouphug, which is making solar technology more accessible to people.