Designers can never have enough colors to choose from and increasingly consumers can’t either.
Pantone LLC has rolled out 315 new colors to the Pantone Fashion, Home + Interiors Color System. Why? Social media, enhanced technology, renowned animators and consumers’ more-informed color know-how are all fueling interest in all kinds of color families.
The additional colors bring the tally to 2,625.
As a sign of the varying degrees, there are now more than 70 new hues of blue and 50 more shades of pink. There are also more yellow choices, such as Illuminating, High Visibility and Yellow Balloon. Fashion has been one of the reasons why the yellow family has been built up a great deal in the new system, while solar power and other societal factors are also influences. “Anything related to the sun is fascinating to people and they know it’s going to be even more important in the future. Social implications, climate change, fashion — it can come from diverse areas. But it all feeds into why we make these new choices and add them to the system,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
The demand for more colors is not being driven by one particular sector such as home, fashion or other industries, she added. “It’s everything. It’s all-over-the-board. Even in Pantone’s other products — the graphics industry, for example, we’re just getting more requests for a greater number of clients because people are so much into color, and engaged by it. They want to see choices.”
The company has also created new digital solutions with such features as colors arranged by family to make it easier for designers and creatives to find just the right shade. Pantone software and mobile apps are designed to help save time and expense by streamlining the color development process and improving color accuracy through quality control and on-schedule production.
Consumers’ willingness to experiment with color makes perfect sense in these times of genderless, seasonless, inclusionary, you-be-you fashion. Pantone’s Fashion Color Trend Report for New York Fashion Week fall 2020 is true to that. Top-ranked designers have delved into autumnal orange Amber Glow, fiery red Samba, the more neutral Sandstone, Classic Blue and nearly neon Green Sheen.
Eiseman said, “When you are working with creatives and manufacturers, particularly the designers, there is always that impetus to add more color. Being a colorist, I always celebrate the introduction of more color because that gives me more choice, more nuance. Nuance is an important word. Sometimes people get an impression, when you’re talking about color; they conjure up some brighter color in their mind’s eye. Color also involves neutral tones, and some of those classic colors. If you’re trying to explain to a client, ‘I think your gray needs to be a little cooler. It has to have a little more blue in it.’ If you have more examples to show them, that helps you sell the idea of a particular color or a color story.”
As for whether there will be a saturation point with consumers’ interest in color, Pantone’s leading colorist said, “I don’t think so. We’re seeing evidence of more technological changes that will enable the human eye to see more color than it ever has before. Just like certain animals and birds can see into another range that humans can’t see into, ultimately technology is going to be picking up on that and enabling humans to see more nuances of colors.”
From Eiseman’s perspective as technology accelerates, that will provide more incentive to expand the color system. Years in the making, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope “will enable people to see more color in outer space than we ever thought was there before,” she said.
Museums, cultural institutions and attractions are also tapping into the public’s thirst for color (and Instagrammable moments) with kaleidoscopic exhibitions. Set to bow on March 9, the American Museum of Natural History’s special exhibition “The Nature of Color” explores the role and power of color in the natural world, in human cultures and in personal lives. Brandon Maxwell’s finale dress from his fall 2020 runway show, which was staged at the museum last month, will be featured in the exhibition’s red room. “They came to me right after the show and said they were doing an exhibit on color and they asked if I would make a red dress and to be the only designer there. So the finale dress was designed for that,” he said.
Having never had anything in a museum before, Maxwell said it was difficult to decide what that final dress should be. “One thing I was thinking about was while many people go through the museum, many kids also go through the museum. I wanted something that felt a bit whimsical…There were many different things that went into it. The red was the directive — to make a red dress. But there are many shades of red so we went through that for months.”