Top 10 PANTONE® Colors for Spring 2010 - Subtle colors reflect the mood of the country and point to a hopeful future

October 6, 2009

The Pantone Color Institute has released the top 10 colors chosen by New York fashion designers for their Spring 2010 Ready to Wear collections. Being a graphic designer, I was intrigued by the neutrality of the colors, even in the five “brights.” Why, for such a cheerful season of renewal, are consumers being given such neutral options, seeing that last spring brought vibrant pops of color?

(Top row, left to right: Pink Champagne, Tuscany, Fusion Coral, Turquoise, Violet; Bottom row, left to right: Aurora. Eucalyptus, Dried Herb, Amparo Blue, Tomato Puree)

I think this reflects the idea that consumers these days are looking to purchase timeless basics that can be worked into their wardrobes alongside pieces they already own. Fashion trends are not changing rapidly; instead, subtle updates are being made to styles. The ever-popular skinny jean, leggings, peep-toe pump, belts and shrunken jackets – all staples of my wardrobe – have been popular for many years. The Spring 2010 PANTONE® colors reflect this, as even the brights are not too flashy; a piece purchased today in most of these colors would work for seasons to come.

Color in fashion is very important, because it both reflects and helps to set the mood of society. Fashion designers must walk a fine line, choosing colors that are appropriate to both the season and the times in which we live. In the Pantone Fashion Color Report 2010, Macy’s Fashion Director Nicole Fischelis said that “Consumers have an insatiable appetite for what’s new and fun in fashion, and that is true this season as well. While they may be more selective in their purchases right now, people still want to be excited and inspired by fashion. Color is arguably one of the most essential elements each season as it triggers the emotional ‘buy me’ reaction!”

TracyReese AlbertaFerretti

Tracy Reese - Aurora, Fusion Coral and Amparo Blue (Source: Getty)
Alberta Ferretti - Pink Champagne and Violet (Source: WireImage)

I did some research and found that half of the colors for Spring 2010 (Tomato Puree, Turquoise, Pink Champagne, Coral and Violet) were popular around 1939, a time of careful but hopeful dressing. The more muted colors refer back to WWI, when a British blockade of the North Atlantic kept supplies of German dyes from reaching the New York fashion industry; the American materials that textile mills were forced to use could only produce drab colors such as Olive and Battleship Gray. These muted colors reflect the reserved atmosphere of the time, and they serve the same purpose today. They remind us of no-nonsense eras such as the Depression and the world wars – very appropriate in today’s world.

Don’t get me wrong – although the colors are not as wild as years past, I’m excited to see them in retail stores early next year. While the colors are a bit muted, their names remind me of luxury, travel and Mediterranean coastlines. Perhaps designers want to give consumers a taste of luxury to equipoise with today’s frugality. It’s a look that suggests both caution for today and a glimpse of better times soon to come.

What do you think?

Dolce&Gabbana UnitedBamboo

Dolce & Gabbana - Tomato Puree (Source: WireImage)
United Bamboo - Aurora, Eucalyptus, Fusion Coral and Tuscany (Source: Getty)

NOTE:_ _ The use of PANTONE® colors in the fashion industry has a long history. Color forecasting, which goes back to the late 1800s when French textile mills first issued color cards, anticipates changes in taste many years prior to a color appearing in front of a consumer. This allows the dye manufacturers to obtain raw materials and secure contracts with suppliers. PANTONE® spot colors aid manufacturers in assuring that colors are consistent across numerous applications. This helps in the coordination among all levels in the international fashion business, from color forecasters, to a Parisian fashion designer, to a department store buyer, to a knockoff manufacturer overseas. To learn more about this fascinating subject, take a look at this article from Humanities magazine: "The Color of Fashion."

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