Pantone launches for the first time ever two colours of the year for 2016
Colour authority Pantone has named for the first time ever two colours of the year for 2016. Dubbed Rose Quartz and Serenity, they are shades of pale pink and baby blue. The company’s announcement is an annual event that is closely watched by the design and fashion industry as the tipoff to a trend that usually spreads through home décor, fashion and design for several years. It tends to unleash a cascade of announcements from retailers revealing their own products in the colours
This particular pastel pairing calls to mind a balloon bouquet announcing a pair of babies, but Pantone says that is not the aim. These shades, they say, were chosen to convey rosy warmth and tranquility. As for baby stuff, they do not want to go there. “Rose quartz is not baby pink,” says Leatrice Eiseman who, as executive director of Pantone’s Colour Institute, oversees the company’s annual choice of Colour of the Year. “It doesn’t have that wimpy feel.”
Still, Rose Quartz could face some challenges if it were forced to go it alone. “That’s a bit too sugary for men,” says Ray Kelvin, founder and chief designer of British fashion retailer Ted Baker. He is using the blue for menswear because it offers “freshness,” he says. He notes that a similar rose shade, which Ted Baker calls “nude pink,” has been a best-seller for the brand’s womenswear lately.
Pantone, owned by Washington, D.C.-based Danaher Corp., has a system that helps manufacturers define colour precisely. Every year, the company polls décor and fashion designers, as well as manufacturers and retailers, on what colours they plan to use, led by Ms. Eiseman, to pick the colour of the coming year. Pantone tips off some marketing partners so that they can create products, such as Sephora cosmetics, and Keurig coffee makers, that use the colours. It even churns out its own popular mugs in the shades. This year’s mug will have both colours—one on each side, like yin and yang.
Eiseman says the two colours are often seen together that they are a natural pairing. She and some other Pantone executives floated the idea of doing two colours around the office, and decided there was no reason not to go with a colour duo.
“From a business perspective, it is two colours, so it’s an opportunity to make extra combinations,” says Eiseman. “It makes for a perfect combination in the home” for tablecloths, glassware and ceramics. She predicts paisleys and plaids will make use of the combo.
Previous Pantone Colours of the Year have tended to be bold, such as the purple-pink Radiant Orchid chosen for 2014, or the bright orange Tangerine Tango chosen for 2012. Only two of the 16 colours chosen since 2000 could qualify as pastels—2003’s Aqua Sky and 2000’s Cerulean. Pantone’s choices have commerce in mind—the company susses out colours that will resonate with consumers—so the choice suggests a sharp turnabout in consumer sentiment.
“We wanted compassion, which today a lot of people are looking for,” Eiseman says. Pantone’s news release describes the colours as “inducing feelings of stability, constancy, comfort and relaxation,” and argues that they “create balance in a chaotic world.”
The choice also reflects a surprising pastel trend that has been on fashion runways in recent seasons. Pastels can seem to convey weakness and they do not pop visually the way bolder colours do, yet pastel pinks and blues appeared in many collections for spring. Thom Browne mixed saccharine shades of blue and pink in his collection for spring.