Conveying “sustainability” to consumers can be a challenging endeavor. But brands’ strategic use of color can help shape a unique narrative for their products whilst enabling greater sustainability and speed to market.

“Both consumers and brands are driving the demand for sustainable solutions,” said John Darsey, vice president of sales at Color Solutions International, a division of DyStar that provides solutions for the development, management and distribution of color standards. To meet that demand, CSI launched a new color product earlier this year in partnership with Datacolor, a color management technology firm: The ColorReaderPro, a lightweight, handheld tool that helps fashion and apparel brands streamline efficiencies in selecting and immediately identifying colors from multiple color libraries, which speeds up the process of seasonal color palette development and identification on-the-go.

Datacolor, Color Solutions International Jointly Release Product

Brian Levey, vice president, consumer solutions, Datacolor, told WWD that its new product “enables sustainability in a variety of ways by reducing the need for physical samples and physical color standards. A designer can use the ColorReaderPro to capture color inspiration without having to purchase the physical inspiration and ship it to their design team in the office. This saves fuel and reduces pollution by eliminating the need for physical sample shipments.” Levey added that its solution “also reduces the need for physical standards,” noting that “a standard library is stored in the ColorReaderPro, which greatly reduces the number of physical standards that need to be produced, maintained and shipped between brands and their suppliers.”

Here, Darsey and Heather Sandwall, director of color and trend at CSI, talk to WWD about developing color solutions for the fashion industry, sustainability and key color trends.

WWD: What are some of the broader trends you’re seeing in the market?

John Darsey: As seasonal color palette development timelines continue to shorten, the market must proactively address color achievability across substrates (cotton, polyester, nylon, etc.) at the time of color development rather than waiting until the color is an issue in the supply chain. The digital communication of color continues to advance year-over-year.

Heather Sandwall: A few key trends are emerging across multiple generations in how people will want to live and do business. The mass market is craving authenticity in products and services to tell a compelling story about what makes them unique and stand out in the crowd. We are also seeing the continuation of a minimalistic approach with nature-inspired color; soothing, unobtrusive and quietly assuring with a pure and clean white, warm neutrals and calming greens paired with soulful colors in shades of blush, peach and lilac.

The ColorReaderPro helps identify colors on-the-go. 

WWD: In what ways has sustainability impacted shopping trends?

H.S.: Consumers are becoming savvier than ever about the power of their purchases. They’re shopping smarter and paying attention to their footprint as zero-waste living becomes aspirational.

WWD: How are CSI and DyStar’s product offerings differentiated in the market?

J.D.: CSI colors offer the designers colors that are on trend and reproducible in production, ensuring that the final color seen on the showroom floor is the exact color the designer intended. Our quality program makes it possible for colors to consistently be repeated throughout the supply chain and over time.

H.S.: CSI’s color management system is the most comprehensive on the market. We provide brands and retailers with seasonal color trend analysis backed by our Relative Color Popularity Index, Design Tools for the communication of color within brands and retailers and Certified Color Standards for the communication of color from the brand and retailers to supply chain partners. All of CSI colors are developed with DyStar’s globally and best available technology dyes. Additionally, the colors are technically supported in all major textile producing countries by DyStar’s technical teams.

WWD: What are some of the challenges and opportunities facing your clients?

H.S.: Predicting the achievability and performance of a color across substrates before the color is introduced to the supply chain is an opportunity in the market. This minimizes unproductive developments thus reducing time, cost and waste.

WWD: What’s next for CSI and DyStar?

H.S.: We will continue to introduce to our customers to our digital color communication tools [CSI Palette Builder and CSIColorFlow] that help brands and retailers seamlessly communicate and manage color from the development stage to the finished garment. Our continued partnerships and integration with key service providers like Datacolor are also a priority. We will continue to invest in equipment in our CSI Charlotte and Shanghai operations, as well as the opening of a CSI Color Studio in Europe.

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