Monday, August 29, 2011

So Why Color Trends, Anyway?

Olive pearls and citrine are a perfect
late summer combination, and they
serve to welcome Fall, too!

Seasonal colors can seem quite predictable.  We have all been through enough seasons to have an idea what colors generate what associations for the time of year (BTW, I happen to be in the northern hemisphere).  Autumn, for example, is usually characterized by rust, umber, brown, gold, amber, forest, and other colors you might find in falling leaves (even if you don't have any leaves in your neighborhood.)  These are the go-to colors that appeal to most people during Autumn, and people will wear them and place them in their environment more often during Fall than any other time of year.  So if each season has its typical colors for us to use, why do we still have "new" colors in fashion and decor all the time?

I will admit - before I began to study color more closely, I thought the idea of "trending" colors was not terribly important.  Fashion can seem frivolous in the face of tough economic times and hard scientific facts.  And certainly part of the fashion industry exists simply to promote its own existence.  But the other side of this picture is the one where "trends" keep people interested, focused, active, and even happy.

Color is a critical part of our environment.  We take in more information from visual input than any other sense.  Color is one of the most prominent visual factors.  For humans to be mentally engaged and interested, color needs to be present in the environment, and used in ways that get our minds working.

Color can dramatically effect our mood and outlook.  When times are tough, people look for ways to feel more up, and color is a big part of that.  Colors in clothes, jewelry, decor, and even cars is a critical tool for keeping us consumers upbeat and interested enough in new products to want to spend our hard earned money on them.  This in turn keeps our economy chugging along so we can keep our jobs that generate said money.  Ideally, anyway ...

Even with the cycle of colors from season to season, people get bored wearing the same colors in the same combinations year after year.  Our need for interesting visual input always keeps us looking for something new.  Consumers put demand on the fashion industry for variation, and the fashion industry does the same in reverse, creating demand by making old combinations outdated.  Thus we have the preferred fashionable color trends that come to us each season of each year.

So where do these colors come from?  They generally resemble or pair with the canonical colors for the season, but add a new spin or twist to keep things interesting.  I spotted a line on the Fidelis Art Prints site that puts it succinctly, "Colour trends are based on observations of the world around us, taking into consideration social issues, technology, lifestyles and the moods and aspirations of consumers. It is from this information that colour experts such as Pantone and Benjamin Moore, forecast colours palettes that will most appeal to the consumers during a time period."



  1. I guess it would make sense that the zeitgeist of a certain time--feelings about the economy, international events, etc.--would affect our color choices. I wonder if we tend to choose brighter colors to lift our mood in tough times, or if we choose darker colors to match it.

  2. Interesting question - until recently, hems of skirts tended to go up in war time. This I assumed was an attempt to 'lift' spirits :) Time to google it ...


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