Eye On Apparel: Color My World

DavideAngelini / Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

 

Fashion wouldn’t be what it is today, or ever, for that matter, without color—and neither would marketing. So, when it comes to wearables, the marriage of color in fabrication and design is both major and multi-purposeful, but above all, it can be truly magical. 

From vibrant-colored retail-fashion tanks with phrases from popular TikTok videos and trendy, on-brand pullovers gifted to employees to recognize a company anniversary, to dyed t-shirts given to distinguish school sports teams, volunteers and extracurricular groups and vibrant bracelets worn to signify support of a belief or cause, color is a way for businesses, corporations, philanthropies and other efforts to incorporate their mission and brand personality into wearable products that serve as ongoing promotions, and also add uniqueness to their products.

Color is also a way for consumers to express their own personalities through the shades and patterns they choose to wear. Use of color presents consumers with choices, allowing them to select pieces that complement both their day-to-day needs and also their personal preferences. Color also provides brands with a way to sell more product. When consumers like a garment’s style, fit and feel, they are likely to want one in every color. 

The power of color, in the hands of brands and fashion designers, can also give way to another world of influence—consumer products. A scene depicting the importance of color plays out in the 2006 movie The Devil Wears Prada, when Andrea “Andy” Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, sneers to herself after a co-worker describes two similar-looking turquoise belts as “so different,” and it prompts her boss, Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, to sternly but truthfully explain how color comes to be used in mainstream products; otherwise known as the trickle-down effect. Referenced online as “the cerulean speech” or referred to as the “cerulean blue theory,” Priestly uses the blue cable-knit sweater Sachs is wearing as an example, noting that it’s not simply blue, but cerulean; a color that, she says, was used in runway collections of designers Yves Saint Laurent (cerulean gowns) and Oscar de la Renta (cerulean military jackets) a few years prior, in 2002. This fashion moment created the popularity of cerulean, which was then used by other designers and soon after appeared in retail stores, and finally made its way into Sachs’s closet. “That blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs,” Priestly tells her subordinate. An earlier version of this same scene was written about plaid, but that’s another color story for another day.

Color is also one of the most obvious details that designers often experiment with. Prominent colors in high-fashion wear have come to represent some of the brands themselves, such as Chanel black, Hermès orange, Cartier red, Burberry beige, Dior grey, Fendi yellow and Tiffany blue. This is also the case with companies outside the fashion industry, which use colors in their branding that are easily recognized by everyday people. Some of the signature colors and color combinations that have been trademarked include UPS brown, T-Mobile magenta, Barbie pink, Wiffle Ball bat yellow, 3M canary yellow (for Post-It®), John Deere yellow and green, DeWalt yellow and black, Home Depot orange and Cadbury purple. 

This fall and winter, the most popular colors to appear in runway and street fashion, as well as in home décor—as chosen by Pantone LLC, the global provider of professional color standards for the design industry and drawn from New York Fashion Week—are described as “enduring” and “exuberant;” a purposeful contrast to a rather difficult 2020. Color is influenced by the times, Regina Blaszczyk, design historian and author of The Colour Revolution, told The Guardian in 2018. “There is good historical evidence showing that industry and consumers tend to prefer colors that reflect the tenor of the times,” Blaszyck says. The shades, which were chosen to collectively inspire “creativity and reinvention” are Ultimate Grey and Illuminating, both named Pantone’s 2021 Color of the Year.

Although Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year is yet to be announced, there is some chatter about the top color trends to come in 2022. Jewel and rich, earthy tones describe the shades that you’re most likely to see throughout the duration of this year and into the winter. However, designers are also leading the way in the unexpected usage and pairing of color for colder months, with the fall 2021/winter 2022 collections by Prada, Versace, Gucci, Moschino, Marc Jacobs and Chanel featuring lemon yellow, scarlet orange and/or bubblegum pink; colors normally associated with spring and summer. 

When we pivot into the spring of 2022, expect to see a resurgence of playful, adventurous and bold shades. Pantone,  named the following 15 colors as its 2022 New York Fashion Week Color Palette, predicting they’ll also be hot in retail fashion. Coupled with fabulous names, many of these shades draw inspiration from the brilliance of nature.

“Our color palette for 2022, especially spring, reflects our need for both familiarity and spontaneity during the uncertain times we live in now,” says Stephanie Bennett, senior merchandising manager for Sharon, Massachusetts supplier, Charles River Apparel. “We crave the calm that’s found in marine blues and greens but are also drawn towards something punchy and exciting, like vibrant fuchsia or sunshine yellow (a classic harbinger of spring!). We believe these tones speak to our current lifestyle: the sanctuary of home, which has become so very important, but also the desire for joy and excitement to break up the monotony of our daily routine.”

Vicki Ostrom, trend analyst/futurist with supplier SanMar and founder of Trendependent, a trend resource for the promotional products industry, says of this season's colors, “There is a definite move for many consumers to build smart, eco-friendly, less-but-better wardrobes. These are based in colors that can be mixed and matched and be worn any time of the year, regardless of the season. The rules of ‘never white after Labor Day’ or ‘pastels in spring jewel tones in fall’ are no longer recognized. In fact, the opposite is true. While we are filling our closets with practical, earthen-inspired tones like tan, brown, grey and black, we are at the same time adding intense pops of color in the way of t-shirts, outerwear and accessories like scarves, beanies and baseball caps. These dopamine brights make up about 20-percent of our closets and are our way of pumping up the joy in our everyday lives while still being mindful of the planet with 80 percent of our choices dedicated to seasonless, comforting, grounded neutrals.”

The aim this current and coming season, and every period, thereafter, is to delight promo recipients by providing them with wearable options they can use or wear daily to help spread a message of awareness or hope, to show support for a sports team or represent an afterschool group, to share information about a business or upcoming event, and so many more possibilities. By offering recipients product selections in fresh and trending colors and styles, year over year, brands raise the likelihood that the garment will be worn and seen more often. But also important, wearables are made to delight those wearing them, and by offering options that incorporate an array of colors, it serves to embolden, enliven and inspire recipients, especially during the colder months.

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Millennial Pink was originally Rose Quartz, Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year, until it grew so popular amongst this generation that it was informally renamed by the public. This came at a time when Instagram was still growing, and thus many consumers began integrating a range of faint pink shades into their social media pages, posts, campaigns and businesses. Soon enough, Millennial Pink was showing up in marketing and consumer products everywhere, and it remains so today. 

Just the year before, popstar Rihanna made a color splash at the 2015 Met Gala when she wore an exquisite lemonade-yellow gown with a 16-foot-long train, which was handmade by Chinese courtier Guo Pei. This dress went viral on social media, which quickly led to other designers and brands integrating yellow into their collections, and the buttercup shade—Pantone’s Gen Z Yellow—also found its way into everyone’s closets, becoming the “it” color in 2018 for Gen Z.

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The Tri-Blend Fleece Hoody is available in 28 colorways, which include popular plaid, army camouflage and cheetah print patterns, as well as pastel earth tones. The 7.5-ounce hoodie is made from a tri-blend of 55-percent cotton, 39-percent polyester and six-percent rayon, and features off-white drawcords, a front pouch pocket and cover-stitching throughout. Available in unisex sizes, XS-3XL, and also in solid colors which include wildberry triblend, royal triblend and black solid.

J. America  /  PPAI 351699, S1  /  www.jamerica.com 

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The Women’s New Englander Rain Jacket, one of Charles River Apparel’s most popular styles, is both wind- and waterproof—and it’s also available in a range of colors with inclusive sizing. Made with a 100-percent polyurethane shell that’s bonded to a woven backing, it’s also lined with grey mesh in the body and front yoke, and in the underarm vents to allow for circulation. The A-line design jacket features taffeta nylon in its sleeves, front-vented capes, a full-length wind flap, a two-way, covered zipper and 3M™ Reflective trim for high visibility. Available in women’s sizes XS-5XL in 14 colors, shown in buttercup. 

Charles River Apparel  /  PPAI 111644, S10  /  www.charlesriverapparel.com 

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The Men’s Boundary Fleece is available in a selection of three jewel tones and is also anti-pill, bulk-free, soft and comfortable. The 8.85-ounce zip-up is made from  100-percent polyester Boundary™ anti-pill filament fleece, a very fine yarn which ensures extra softness. Additional details include a self-fabric mock neck, a wind flap and a chin guard for added protection. Customize it with embroidery. Available in men’s sizes XS-3XL in seven colors, shown in teal.

Charles River Apparel  /  PPAI 111644, S10  /  www.charlesriverapparel.com 

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Tie-dye resurged during the pandemic and it’s stayed popular since. WWD writes that we can expect it to stick around for a while, as it’s helping us to “beat the pandemic blues.” Made from 100-percent cotton, the 12-inch Sportsman Tie-Dye Knit by Kati Sportcap & Bag is available in five alluring color blends—cotton candy, ocean, purple passion, raspberry mist and sky—and will surely add a brightness to winter wear.

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com 

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The ComfortWash Short Sleeve T-Shirt offers a universe, classic fit and is available in a wide selection of 33 colors, including butterscotch, clay, crimson fall and frontier blue. Available in a short-sleeve style, this 5.5-ounce, midweight t-shirt is made from 100-percent ring-spun cotton and features a twill label and neck tape. Available in XS-3XL, shown in deep forte.

Hanes  /  PPAI 191138, S10  /  www.haneslocator.com

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The Sportsman Tie-Dye Dad Hat is another tie-dye option in a different style. Available in a selection of nine colors—including cotton candy, dark blue, dark pink, gray, ocean, purple passion, raspberry mist, sky and light blue (shown)—this unstructured, six-panel, low-profile “dad-style” cap is made from 100-percent cotton and features a pre-curved visor and tri-glide closure. Available in one size fits most.

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com 

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Available in the sought-after shades of mustard, mauve, black and white—the first two colors possibly playing on the trends of Millennial Pink and Gen Z Yellow—the BELLA + CANVAS FWD Fashion Women’s Cropped Long Sleeve Tee is trendy and easy to wear and plays off of the popular cropped style. Made from 100-percent Airlume-combed and ring-spun cotton, this 4.2-ounce shirt, which has a retail fit, features side seams, a dropped shoulder, a raw hem and a tearaway label. Available in women’s S-L, shown in mustard.

Staton Corporate and Casual  /  PPAI 170839, S12  /  www.statononline.com 

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Available in nine brilliant colors, the Comfort Colors Adult French Terry Scuba Hood is made from 100-percent ring-spun cotton, so it’s super cozy, but also ideal for day-to-day wear. The eight-ounce sweatshirt has a scuba hood with a matching flat cord, double-needle stitching on the neck, shoulder, armhole and cuffs, and a double-needle bottom hem with side vents and a drop tail. It also features a pouch pocket, one-by-one-inch cuffs and a twill label. Each sweatshirt is slightly unique due to pigment-dyeing process. Available in sizes S-3XL, shown in watermelon.

Staton Corporate and Casual  /  PPAI 170839, S12  /  www.statononline.com 

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Another option that’s ideal for day-to-day wear and one that’s reminiscent of ’90s and early 2000s fashion, which is also “in” again, is the Soffe Women’s Rugby Zip Hoodie. This lightweight, 7.5-ounce hoodie is described as “summer weight,” and is made from a blend of 50-percent cotton and 50-percent polyester and features a full-zip front. It’s available in sizes XS-XL, but sizes are labeled for juniors for a snug fit; size up for a looser fit. Choose from 13 saturated colors, shown in cardinal. 

Delta Apparel, Inc.  /  PPAI 188431, S9  /  www.deltaapparel.com 

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Side-seamed with a modern silhouette, the Delta Platinum CVC Flowy Tank is available in 17 colors, and is the perfect option to market festivals, concerts and other outdoor events, and local businesses, from fitness centers to delis and lawn-care services. Made from a blend of 60-percent combed, ring-spun cotton and 40-percent polyester, this 4.3-ounce tank features bound collar and armholes, and a center-back quarter-inch single-needle topstitch seam and a satin tearaway label. Available in sizes S-2XL, shown in putty.  

Delta Apparel, Inc.  /  PPAI 188431, S9  /  www.deltaapparel.com 

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The Tultex 291 – Unisex Heavyweight Long Sleeve Tee, shown in a classic white, is a unisex, stress-free option that wearers can literally grab and go. Made from 100-percent American ring-spun cotton, the top is pre-washed to minimize shrinkage and reactive-dyed for longer-lasting color. Featuring tubular construction, details include a ribbed crew neck and long-sleeve cuffs, taped neck and shoulders, double-needle stitching on the bottom hem and a tearaway label. Available in sizes XS-3XL in 14 colors, shown in white.

TSC Apparel  /  PPAI 174523, S12  /  www.tscapparel.com

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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