Is it magic? A conspiracy? Ever wonder why you can’t find that perfect shade of “Lipstick Red” in anything from cars to actual lipstick? Chances are it didn’t make the cut over at Pantone, the behemoth responsible for issuing the seasons color trends. Since Spring 2015 Color Trends are entitled “En Plein Air”, I’m afraid you’re outta luck for Lipstick Red, at least for the foreseeable future.
This season, cooler and softer color choices with subtle warm tones follow a minimalistic en plein air theme, taking a cue from nature.
So says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute, of the Spring 2015 color trends with monikers like “Toasted Almond”, “Strawberry Ice”, “Tangerine”, “Custard”, “Glacier Gray”, “Woodbine”, “Sandstone”, “Dusk Blue”and “Lavender Herb”, not to mention the Color of the Year “Marsala”. (Since Pantone is extremely proprietorial about their swatches, you’ll need to click here to see the full version: Spring 2015 Color Trends.)
So who makes this stuff up? Who are the arbiters of the culture of color trends and how are they so pervasive? By developing a color “language”, the Pantone Color Match System, Pantone has become the world’s leading authority on color. This system allows designers to communicate with manufacturers, printers, suppliers and consumers in an unprecedented and seriously accurate way. As such, it’s become the go-to tool for predicting and forecasting color trends. At Pantone, the impressions, opinions, and tastes of designers from all disciplines, fashion, cosmetics, interior designers, architects, costume and set designers, marketing experts, even political pundits are culled constantly to predict and inform the culture of color trends. A partnership with Clariant International, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of dyes and colorants, ensures Pantone’s grip on color trend culture; Clariant makes everything from micro-pigments and textile colorants to the coatings used in road markings.
Popular culture is beginning to exert influence too. In April of this year, Pantone announced the birth of a brand new color, “Minion Yellow”, named for the little yellow guys in the animated film “Despicable Me”. “Minion Yellow” is the first color ever to be named for a movie character. As fashion writer Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times reported April 21, the very first to pick up on this new color trend was a yarn company, UK based Wool and the Gang.
I quote an email I got just hours after the Pantone announcement from Wool and the Gang — it is “a perfect, gender-neutral pick for all little princes and princesses.” In other words, it’s royal baby ready! “How A Color Becomes A Trend” NY Times, April 21, 2015
Though some might detect a whiff of the sinister about Pantone’s hold on color culture, I can see an up side. The color trend forecasts tidy up the color landscape for us, helping us focus on a communal vibe. It has a unifying effect. Though Pantone may be a little guarded about their swatches, they’re certainly not keeping the color trends forecasts a secret! That creates a more level playing field for independent designers of all stripes. We don’t have to guess at what the big boys are doing. And I’m impressed by the way Pantone colors evolve from season to season. There is no chucking of the “out” colors for the “in” colors; this might help fashion stay a little more sustainable.
And incidentally, Pantone notes a “Color of the Day” in its “Colorstrology” section. Today’s color? Deep Mint: Progressive, hardworking, enterprising. Have some fun and check it out ;)