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Staple and fashion colors

Some fashion colors sell more readily
and, therefore, tend to reappear more frequently than

When color trends in apparel, accessories, or home fashions are reviewed over time, it becomes clear that certain colors appear frequently in the fashion cycle.

Staple colors

With apparel, colors including black, navy, white, and beige are considered staple colors or classic colors and are seen almost continuously season after season. Each line typically includes one or more staple colors. Heritage fashion brand companies that are known for classic styles and/or materials often use staple colors for their merchandise. For example, US-based heritage brand, Pendleton Woolen Mills, is known for maintaining several staple colors in its classic apparel lines. Pendleton’s tartan navy and tartan green are examples of colors that are color matched season after season. Pendleton tracks the sales, ranked by dollar volume and color, to ensure that long-term, high-selling colors are represented in each line. As another example, UK-based heritage fashion brand company Burberry is well-known for their iconic plaid materials with staple colors of camel, black, white, and red that represent the brand

Heritage brand Burberry uses staple colors for its iconic plaid fabric.

Some companies modify a staple color slightly from season to season to reflect fashion influences. In one season, a navy may be a violet-navy, in another season, the navy may be a black-navy. This variation lends an updated fashion look to staple colors. If a print fabric in the line contains navy, then the navy in the print fabric needs to match the solid navy.

Fashion colors

Whereas some staple colors remain popular over many years, fashion colors have a shorter fashion lifecycle. Fashion colors often follow cycles, reappearing in a different shade, value, or intensity from one fashion season to the next. For example, an orange-red may evolve into a blue red, which may evolve into a blue magenta. It is interesting to follow the trend of a fashion color over a period of years. A color such as aubergine (eggplant) will recur every few years. It may be slightly redder one season, slightly bluer another.

For those who have tried to match the color of an item purchased in a previous season or year, it becomes painfully obvious that the life cycle of some fashion colors is very short. Some customers have learned to purchase all color-matched pieces of a line at one time to avoid disappointment later when they might be unable to match the color of a shirt that they would like to purchase for wearing with the pants they bought a year earlier. Some fashion colors sell more readily and, therefore, tend to reappear more frequently than others.

Understanding the systems for communicating colors is important, and you will also learn about the “color language” tool created to ensure designers get exactly what they specify.

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Introduction to Fashion Marketing and Research

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