Pantone places orange on fashion world’s pedestal

NEW YORK — The world doesn’t need more gray, and the blues are covered, too. What consumer products need is a jolt, a shot of energy and boldness, all of which comes from Tangerine Tango, the reddish-orange hue that Pantone announced Wednesday as its top color for 2012.

“There’s the element of encouragement with orange, it’s building on the ideas of courage and action, that we want to move on to better things. I think it would be a disservice to go with a relaxed, soothing color now,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the research division of Pantone Inc., which creates color standards for the fashion, beauty and home industries.

The annual forecast for the next year’s dominant color takes into consideration both what Pantone thinks shoppers want and need. Those are influenced by the designer runways, fabric shows, news events, pop culture and consumer habits. “Part of what we do is look at the zeitgeist,” Eiseman said. “We have to look at everything in the world around us. It’s not an arbitrary choice.”

Consumer spending is a big player in reviving the economy and it needs adrenaline, she said. Orange is a more urgent call to action than last year’s hot-pink hue Honeysuckle, which was also supposed to channel cheerfulness coupled with nostalgia. Before that, there was the more serene turquoise and optimistic yellow.

“Color is really emotion,” said Beth Eckerstrom, director of trend and product development at Crate and Barrel. “Everyone thinks it’s a physical thing, but it’s really emotion.”

As she picks the palette for future products, Eckerstrom said she looks for shades that feel fresh but still are familiar, not foreign. “Over the past years, there’s been a return to organic, natural product finishes and colors. They’re complex neutrals, not beige and taupe, but people want to bring the outside in. This tangerine color is a fresh accent. … It seems like such a bright, but it’s really a gerbera daisy-flower shade, which makes it sort of neutral.”

For his spring collection, Tommy Hilfiger used the tangerine color coupled with red, although it also complements navy and brown. He imagines men wearing the orange in a striped or paisley tie, or for women, as a color for a purse or even a trenchcoat. It’s a color that will move seamlessly through the seasons.


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