Diving into Classic Blue, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2020

Diving into Classic Blue, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2020

Written by Leong KexinJanuary 15, 2020

Diving into Classic Blue, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2020

Each year, monumental colours conquer the fashion world. In 2019, colours like yellow and bright red experienced unexpected popularity in the fashion scene despite the initial buzz with Living Coral –  Pantone’s colour of that year.

Recently, Pantone crowned Classic Blue as the colour for 2020. Pantone’s seasonal colour is pop culture royalty and search engine trends usually show sharp rises after the annual announcements in December.

Movement of “Pantone Classic Blue” search during the first week of December 2019.
Source: Google Trends

This begs the question – will Classic Blue (19-4052) rise like Millennial Pink, or suffer the same fate as UltraViolet?  

Source: CNN

What does Classic Blue symbolise? 

Described by Pantone as “a timeless and enduring blue hue elegant in its simplicity”, the colour symbolises protection, stability and peace. Every predicted colour of the year is an intended mirror of society. According to Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of Pantone Colour Institute, society is currently living in a time that requires faith. 

Deep Blue is predicted to provide a sense of stability to society in the current fast-paced, and often fractious world. The colour is also a gender-neutral shade in fashion, which supports the current social climate which strives for equality and inclusivity.

Source: Dezeen

A look into the current fashion industry

Classic Blue has already been evident in the fashion industry.

Source: WWD

Prior to Pantone’s release, celebrities like Meghan Markle and Emilia Clarke were spotted donning Classic Blue on the red carpet.

Source: Glowsly

The colour was also seen on the Fall/Winter 2019-2020 runway back in March. Designers like Salvatore Ferragamo and Christian Siriano showcased some of their runway looks in various shades of blue.

Classic Blue gained prior traction in the media but what does the data behind the colour show?

The chart above depicts the data from ASOS. 

SKUs with the colour ‘Deep Blue’ under ASOS reached its pinnacle in October but took a swift downturn in the next month to prioritise year-end markdowns. 

Deep blue was also paired with other popular colours in retail to spot any early signs of inclination prior to Pantone’s announcement. The data depicted higher newness for Vivid Red in the months leading up to Pantone’s announcement instead of the forecasted colour. 

Are macro colour trends still relevant?

Looking back at one of the biggest colours predicted by Pantone, Millennial Pink (also named Rose Quartz by Pantone) quickly became a broad trend all over. The colour took over Instagram by storm, serving as a refreshing pop of vibrancy on the feed. Many brands soon spotted the lucrative opportunity behind the popular hue and adopted Millennial Pink into their strategies. 

Source: Instagram

The cult-favourite beauty brand, Glossier, propelled to Instagram superstardom by heavily incorporating the trendy pink hue in their branding strategy. From flat lays to packaging and product shots, Millennial Pink became an embodiment of Glossier. Later on, Glossier also started showcasing hints of red in recent branding efforts which mirrors the increasing popularity of bright red in fashion.

Glossier’s understanding of social media’s impact and their ability to quickly adapt to trending colours on Instagram should be an example for retailers whose main target audience comprises digital natives.

So this raises the question – how long will broad trend predictions such as Pantone’s colour of the year maintain relevance in a digital landscape which shifts consumer tastes fast?

The viral Zara polka-dotted dress made popular by Instagram.
Source: Instagram

Classic Blue is predicted to increase in popularity across the year. However, sweeping predictions fail to detect micro-trends that sprout sporadically in fashion. Instead, consumers are inclined towards fashion trends from social media, influencers and D2C brands, due to the strong impact they have. 

What does this mean for retail?

Undeniably, Pantone’s colour predictions are commonly referred to by many industries, especially retail. However, the reality of Classic Blue still remains as a prediction that only paints half the picture. 

The best action that can be taken for retailers is to complement this colour forecast with data to determine if this is worth the heavy investment. Regular benchmarking against industry leaders allows a more granular look at colours insights across specific markets and categories. 

While Pantone’s authority in the retail industry is able to push certain colours to the forefront, retailers can maximise profitability by adopting a data-driven method to support the predictions and introduce newness into their assortments.

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