Classic Blue is the new black. At least this year.
That’s the official word from color arbiter Pantone, which announced in December to much fanfare that Classic Blue, also known as Color No. 19-4052 in the company’s vast color collection, is its 2020 Color of the Year.
Executives at Beverly Grove-based FabFitFun Inc. — a fast-growing subscription service that provides curated seasonal boxes filled with fashion, fitness, wellness and home products — couldn’t be more pleased.
“We have found that our members always have a sense of excitement around Pantone’s Color of the Year,” FabFitFun Vice President of Merchandising Ryan Waymire said in an email. “We make sure to integrate the color in items that we feature in our marketing, our subscription boxes and our ecommerce sales.”
The question is whether other companies in the $4 billion-plus Los Angeles fashion world will incorporate Pantone’s hue into clothes that will show up on runways and store shelves later this year.
Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, said she believes many local fashion businesses will be feeling blue this year.
“Pantone color numbers have been a tremendous boon to the industry because we are now global,” she said. “When we call for a shade of blue for China, you don’t have to send a swatch anymore. … You (can) send a plaid pattern
in black, white and gray (indicating) what Pantone color goes into what line. Pantone has been a significant part of that change.”
Metchek said a Pantone Color of Year may begin to show up in yarns and materials that need to be dyed, which are then made into apparel items in 2020.
Pantone is a Carlstadt, N.J.-based manufacturer and marketer of number-coded color systems used in textiles, apparel, cosmetics, design and other industries. The company bestows a Color of the Year title annually; last year it was Living Coral.
For 2020, Pantone upped its marketing hoopla by going “multisensory” for the first time. It uses evocative terms to describe its newly created sound (nostalgic), scent (optimism, blue water and sea salt), taste (gentle and elegant, evoking the idea of maturing through ripening) and texture (soft, velvety) associated with Classic Blue. The new sensory experiences were unveiled last month at an installation the company dubbed a “launch experience” at Artechouse in Manhattan.
The shade resonates with Roger Sanchez, founding partner of Culver City-based Uncomn Projects, a branding and marketing company for residential real estate. Unfortunately, his business can’t rely on the Color of Year to inform active projects.
“Our design work is produced for buildings and brands that will launch in two to four years,” Sanchez said via email. “Instead, we utilize current and past Pantone colors along with a forecasted consumer mindset based on purchasing behavior and social-environment trends.”
Sanchez said he loves Pantone’s Classic Blue. “It’s a more bold iteration of the very popular Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, Oceanside. Also, I painted my kitchen Oceanside, so you could say I like it a bit!”
Of course, not everyone is so enthusiastic. At least one fashion pundit believes Classic Blue is the new blah.
“Pantone’s Color of the Year is Awful,” reads a Dec. 16 headline in Fast Company, a business magazine. The article goes on to compare the hue to the color of Facebook Inc.’s logo and the Google Docs icon. The story by Evan Nicole Brown cited Pantone’s 2018’s Color of the Year, Living Coral, as a more “relevant” choice.
But a color like coral is less likely to find its way into fashion, said Anna Tenenblatt, vice president of Tenenblatt Corp., doing business as Antex Knitting Mills downtown. The company provides fabric products for fashion businesses including active wear companies Nike Inc., Under Armour Inc. and Fabletics in El Segundo.
Tenenblatt is firmly in the Classic Blue camp.
“I think this particular color will have a good influence,” she said. “It will translate to every category — men, women and children. Brands that set their colors a long time in advance can use this color in a lot of different categories, and that can translate into more business.
“Last year’s coral was a little more limited,” Tenenblatt added.
Given L.A.’s position as one of the world’s fashion capitals, acceptance here for a Color of the Year can have an impact elsewhere.
With 87,600 jobs, fashion ranked second behind only entertainment in the number of creative industry jobs in Los Angeles County, according to the 2018 Los Angeles Fashion Report from the California Fashion Association.
In the Los Angeles region, which includes Orange County, the fashion industry accounted for payrolls totaling $4.4 billion annually.
Just don’t expect younger consumers to flock to Classic Blue — or any other color of the year.
“It won’t make a damn bit of difference to the Z Generation,” Metchek said. “Because YouTube does not talk about color. That little person on YouTube that is telling the 16-year-old what to wear is not telling her what color to wear, she’s telling her what style to wear and where to wear it. … (They) are wearing Pendleton plaid shirts in the middle of summer over a bathing suit.”
Metchek said publicizing new fashion colors is all about “built-in obsolescence.”
That concept is rapidly becoming repugnant to millennials, said Justine Parish, faculty director of the sewing lab of the product design department at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.
“They are painfully aware of the built-in obsolescence; they really don’t like it,” Parish said. “They are looking for brands that are trying to incorporate sustainability.”
A positive intention, but it leads to a classroom full of young design students wearing gray and black, Parish said. “I look around and say, ‘You guys are really boring,’” she said with a laugh.
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