Pantone’s Color Of the Year: 5 Things To Remember About Color Forecasting

press_coy2016Maybe you’ve heard, and maybe you haven’t; Pantone has announced its Color Of The Year forecast for 2016.  This year, they’ve actually named two colors.  We’ll be seeing Rose Quartz, a pink the color of the softest rosy blush without a hint of cloying sweetness, and Serenity, a blue that looks like the love child of Sky and Cornflower.  These two colors will be everywhere from the subtlest  hints (think about the capital letters at the beginnings of paragraphs in your favorite magazines, or the color on the walls of the kitchens in the TV ads for breakfast cereals) to the most blatant displays (think dominating ready to wear swim suits or raincoats as well as everything from home accessories to shoelaces)

But what does it all mean to us, my lovelies, my yarn-ies, my fiber art compatriots?  Well , we’ve had some questions and some lively discussion about it here at Over The Rainbow Yarn and I’ve some up with some things you should keep in mind.

• How do they come up with that?  Do they have a crystal ball or do they just pull something out of a hat and it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy?

pantone-colors-spring-2016-swatches-sized-w724The first thing to answer is, “who are THEY?”  Pantone actually has a group of professional forecasters who come from all over the world.  They meet twice a year and work in breakout session and as a whole to asses a huge range of factors.  They look at what is happening in the world from a bunch of different angles and perspectives.  They watch trends in global politics, social media, economics, publishing, entertainment industries, art, craft and buying habits of small Asian island cultures.  They pay attention to themes in popular television sitcoms in Argentina, cartoons in obscure (or not so obscure) French newspapers, which smart phone operating system is selling best, how many Etsy sites are featuring Ancient Norse inspired jewelry for men, and a million other tiny details that you and I can’t even imagine.  Then they distill all those tiny details into a coherent assessment of what we could call, for lack of any better term, the global mood.  Even then, they are not done.  They proceed to look at the global mood as indicated by all the details, then look back at other times in our history when our mood has been like that and what we as a group did about it.  Then they look at what they know about color theory and make a prediction about what we’re going to want next in the way of color.  Exhausting right?

• So what does mood have to do with color?

Slide1Well…there have been studies done for decades on how color affects mood.  Just try doing a Google search for color and mood and you’ll find thousands of articles, some based on hard science and some based on market research, some based on ancient or New Age spiritual traditions.  The color around us can affect everything from our appetite to our ability to sleep soundly.  Color can affect how and with whom we fall in love, when and how much we listen or talk, all of our emotions, their intensity and our ability to express them.

And our mood can affect our color choice.  Have you ever noticed how people who are feeling depressed really do choose drab colors to dress themselves in, and there’s that one aggressive woman in your book group who always wears the brightest shades of shocking pink and electric blue?  People choose colors based on their mood all the time.

•So should I use pink and blue yarn for all my 2016 crochet projects?

img_pantone_color_of_the_year_2015_press_releaseNot necessarily.  Forecasting is not about telling you what you must do.  It’s about making educated guesses about what you may want to do without even knowing why yourself.  Forecasting also in definitely not about telling consumers what they should like.  It’s about giving manufacturers, publishers, designers, etc. a sneak peak at what many of us are going to be in the mood for soon.  Look around your local department store.  Do you think you could find a pair of rain boots or a bathing suit today?  “Of course not,” you say.  “That’s a spring item.”  Well, and you’re right.  There’s nothing in the world to stop me from wanting a bathing suit in January, but my local department store can’t stock everything all the time and they have their seasonal cycles.  We’ll start seeing bathing suits again just as soon as the Easter stuff is cleared out, right?  And they’ll also be stocking lots of things in Rose Quartz and Serenity, and the rest of the Pantone 2016 palette, because the smart folks at Pantone have told them that that’s probably what most of us are going to want.  Not all of us and not all the time, but most of us, at least some of the time and for some things.

We also have to keep in mind that we are part of the slow fashion trend.  Most of us are going to take our sweet time finishing a sweater and by the time we’re binding off, there may be a brand new Color Of The Year.  We are also hoping that the sweaters we knit will not be abandoned after a single season, or even a single year.  We are knitting and crocheting for the ages and should choose colors based on many, many things that have nothing to do with the seasonal trends.

• Are these colors going to dominate everything?

633ca37eb205ed72523ac47509a60e10Um…it depends on what you mean by everything.  In real life, very few of us replace our entire wardrobe every season, or even every year.  We definitely don’t repaint our homes even every decade.  Forecasting takes two parallel approaches, short term and long term.  Short term forecasting is great for things we think of as disposable or nearly disposable.  When you upgrade your phone, you get a new protective case, right?  Want to take a guess at what the popular color for phone cases will be this season?  I bet you’re right.  But should Sherwin Williams double their stock of soft pink exterior paint?  Probably not.  Folks who are buying and decorating their first home this season may be affected enough by the global mood to paint their downstairs powder room baby blue.  They are more likely to choose towels in shades of Indigo, and the most likely to grab that pretty Serenity liquid soap dispenser and matching shower curtain rings.  When the time come to get a new shower curtain, they may wonder why they ever chose that shade of Emerald two years ago, and opt for the Lilac Gray and Peach Echo one they saw and the big store last week.

It may also mean that finding your favorite colors may be a little more difficult, this year.  Not impossible, just a little more difficult.  A true holly berry red may not be upper most in everyone else’s mind, but it’s my favorite color.  This spring, I may have to settle for a new pair of rain boots in Fiesta.  The ready to wear shoe makers are going to be banking on me wanting it that way, at least this year.

• But what If I don’t look good in this year’s color?

n83pbj-iNothing says you have to wear it.  What we like to look at and what we look good in are two different things.  I already mentioned that a cool, rich, holly berry, Christmas red is my favorite color.  I should amend that to “…for some things.”  As a color I love to look at it.  It makes me feel all warm and energized inside.  It’s the color of my car.  But I would never in a million years paint my house that color.  I like to wear that color, mixed with other bright jewel tones and I have a lot of it in my wardrobe.  Still, I get the most compliments on my appearance when I wear soft yet bright blues, like cornflower, like periwinkle, like Serenity.

If you didn’t already know it, let me tell you now; you are the boss of your wardrobe and can wear anything you like for any reason you like.  If getting compliments is what you’re after today, then dress to please someone else.  If you feel like putting on that pumpkin orange hat that your mother says makes you look like you’re decomposing, but make you feel sunny and creative, dress to please yourself, and too bad about your mother.

And remember that your favorite colors will come around again.  They always do.

The bottom line is, you are the boss of your knitting and crochet.  You know yourself best and you know the people you love best.  Go with what you know about what you and they love.  If you want to work with this years colors, try a quick accessory that will work for the season, then go into rotation later.  If you know your niece’s favorite color is a dusky olive, by all means, knit her graduation afghan in her favorite color.  You know better than Pantone what’s going to work for you.

And do please send me pictures of what you decide to make.  I love seeing all your color choices as much as I love seeing the patterns you choose.  In fact, my lovelies, my yarn-ies, my fiber art compatriots, you are my forecasters.

Written by mim


2 Comments on “Pantone’s Color Of the Year: 5 Things To Remember About Color Forecasting

  1. great piece – and you are so right – we are the boss! I shudder when the brains at Pantone think I will ever want harvest gold, rust, orange, etc because I look like death in those colors. So, when they finally get around to loving the blues, I stock up on wardrobe essentials in as good a quality as I can afford, because they have to last through the orange/gold years.

    As for red – YES! Reds with blue undertones, not orange (surprise!) are my very favorites, and are sometimes hard to come by. A few I love are Cascade and Brown Sheep – they offer so many colors that they had to hit on my red eventually, right?

    I happen to like both of the colors this year, but will likely use them as accent pieces with my navy blue skirts. 🙂 Likely won’t paint anything in my house either color.

    Thanks for explaining how they do it – not the dart board method I presumed. 🙂

    • Definitely not a dart board! But still not something we have to be too concerned with. I’m with you; I’ll probably get a scarf in Serenity and I have a couple of Rose Quartz blouses that I will put into heavy rotation. I’m not willing to invest too heavily since our collective mood is going to change, and Pantone will be touting a new color to match it.

      Thanks for commenting! Mim

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