Sport: A Banner for Colour

For the Intercolor Spring-Summer 2020 season congress, 14 countries met in Marseille end of May at the invitation of the Comité Français de la Couleur in partnership with Maison Mode Méditerranée. The “Rencontres internationales de la couleur” (International Color Meeting) was held at  the Departmental Library and Archives of the Bouches du Rhône region.

Experts from around the world shared their colour prospective with professionals from the textile, fashion, design and sport sectors to help orient different manufacturing industries.

This was a great opportunity to define cultural uniqueness in today’s more open world and establish evolutions in the colour vocabulary for sports.

Phase 1 – INTERCOLOR encounters

Sports, ecology and recycling

Hats off to Japan, the host of the 2020 Olympic games, which will set the tone for new “healthy”, Zen influences on sport but also – and above all – for an ecological consciousness that motivates the organizers of this worldwide event. Highlighting human performance and the innovative prototypes used by athletes during the Para- Olympic games is a way to redefine the moods and colours of performance that are evolving towards natural tones. One general, shared observation is that sport and fashion are definitely linked by comfort.

Switzerland offers the same ecological preoccupation with a reflection on sports and recycling. Mountains of strange colours were shown alongside mountains of clothes that clash natural colours in a soft, almost crazy mood.


Overall and unchanging: flags, usually in contrast stripes, are softened and calmed down by peaceful colours.

Denmark plays up collective white harmonies with a hundred-year-old tradition of group gymnastics: the muffled bright of 1920s sport centres and their flexible, social, adaptable designs.

Portugal anticipates movement and trans- culturalism by creating new rules in the colour game.

China finds a balance between collective, futurist performances, innovation and a search for individual balance. Martial art philosophies rediscover lifestyle colours that are sensitive to sustainable development in calm, neutral ranges …


Italy and Spain go full force in the direction of performance and competition. Bright give a boost to stadiums, red encourages rivalries and fires up national passions.

The United States, between a Zen attitude and extreme sports, oscillates between “green attitude” colour ranges and violent contrasts.


Finland is the first country to show the interactions between fashion and sport with flashy, shifted details. A cool attitude that spotlights young designer collections and links them to sport by refreshing the range with impertinence.

England surprises us with “crazy sports” and a “bad taste” humour that associates traditional, natural tweed colours with sport codes.

Korea surfs on a young planet with a generation that glides between the virtual and super-real in a girly, yet dynamic range.

Virtual poetry is emphasized by Turkey with a plunge into the future. A choreography for the body using luminous transparencies.

France plays a double game with two-tone combinations, alternations, and repetitions… Punchy colours give a jolt to ranges with cheerfulness, freshness and a fashion or design attitude. Aquatic or fluid blues and greens dominate the range. We surf on an ocean that will soon be a lost paradise.

Phase 2 – Roundtable discussion

Interactive meetings among professionals

Is it fashion – or sport – that influences the other? The question is far from being resolved. Another question that has also certainly not been decided, will the influences of sustainable development and research into high-performance continue to co-exist in the sport world with their extremely contrasting colour propositions?

For the Décathlon colour team with its international vision, the function of sport garments has seduced the fashion world while fashion has helped evolve the lightness of materials and the colour palette in women’s sport collections. It is also “Athleisure”, the sporty practice of well-being sports that often seamlessly brings together the fashion and sport worlds.

Performance is no longer sport’s reason for being, “it is important to reach Nirvana” for one’s inner self and body in an almost spiritual dialogue …

For Première Vision, the international textile fair, this link has today become inseparable and also comes with a possibility for expanding the market for both the fashion and sport industries. Technical textile specialists offer accumulated comfort and resistance to wear-and-tear in specific color ranges nourished by “active sport” fashion propositions.

Olivier Guillemin, president of the Comité Français de la Couleur points out that sport looks for inspiration in more sensual fashion colour range propositions while in contrast, fashion has been energizing its colour propositions with brights and fluorescents since the late 90s in the same way it uses basic neutrals*. Today, the “security-light” colours found in reflective printing or jacquard yarns open up new possibilities for fashion as well as for nocturnal sports.

Immouv, a fashion office that specializes in sports, points out, that themes for men and women are the same now and colors are used in the same harmonies, a new phenomenon in fashion. The fear of being unfashionable is ongoing in the sports industry and colour strategies take inspiration directly from fashion images.

Marion Lamarque (Décathlon) explains that slow sports (such as petanque) are a top draw for sport activities as are 100 other sports people “practice” individually or by using their surrounding environment. Sport and fashion is no doubt a “marriage of reason” with a strong link to color that will continue.

To conclude these exchanges, the Comité Français de la Couleur wished to highlight the problem of the aquatic environment that includes recycling plastic debris from the oceans.

This is an opportunity to focus on e-blue for Spring-Summer 2020 to help fortify a collective unconsciousness in a militant, innovative spirit …

INTERCOLOR CONGRESS – May 24 & 25, 2018 -An international vision of colour

Intercolor, a non-profit association created in 1963, is an international platform for the research and development of colour that brings together an interdisciplinary group of experts.

These colour professionals, each delegated by a national association, also represent key players in the textile, fashion and design industries of their respective countries.

France, Japan and Switzerland founded Intercolor that today brings together 16 countries from Europe, America and Asia.

Twice a year, its members meet in a congress hosted by a member country. During their work sessions, each d elegate presents their colour propositions for the season in question by relying on concepts, lifestyles and environments. After two days of exchanges, the Intercolor general colour range is constructed – this time for Spring-Summer 2020 – the fruit of these shared ideas.

This most recent congress was the opportunity for the representatives of the member country organizations to meet designers, brands, manufacturers, schools, associations and French and regional institutions.