The Pantone Colour Trend Report, which highlights the top colours that will be featured on the runways each season alongside colour of the year, has become an important element for brands in planning their upcoming collections. While the runway shows remained as the key avenue for spotting the season’s trending colours and styles, not all translated well into retail.
In this report, we drew insights on the reception towards Spring/Summer 2019 colours from these fast fashion retailers:
- River Island
- Fashion Nova
- Urban Outfitters
More than 250,000 data points were screened across top womenswear categories – Tops, Dresses, Outerwear, Swimwear & Beachwear, Jumpsuits & Playsuits, Pants & Leggings and Skirts from January – June 2019.
Analysis on Southeast Asia’s homegrown labels – Pomelo Fashion and Love, Bonito was also made to study how this season’s trending colours were adopted in the local front.
Spring/Summer 2019 Colour Palette
The Spring/Summer 2019 Fashion Colour Trend Report by Pantone showcased a set of eye-catching and uplifting vibrant hues that exude empowerment and joyfulness. Four distinct colour stories were established from these set of colours – Sunset Flare, Feminine & Fun, Back to Nature and Core Classics.
The most definitive colours were orange and yellow, which showed up in the form of Aspen Gold, Mango Mojito, Turmeric, and Living Coral. The main shade of red this season, Fiesta, also had a mixture of orange in it.
Other colours that stood out include beige/ nude, which was prominent on the runways from Max Mara to Christian Dior, along with feminine colours in various shades of pink.
Spring/Summer 2018 Colour Palette Comparison
Overall, the SS19 colour palettes were punchier, louder and bolder compared to SS18, which showcased more of muted, subdued colours such as Blooming Dahlia, Arcadia and Little Boy Blue.
Colours with the Most Newness
The total newly added SKUs in the Spring/Summer 2019 Pantone colours totalled 6,444 items across the 10 e-tailers analysed. Fashion seasonal colours commanded the biggest newness in volume (33%), which was led by Sunset Flare, followed by the Core Classics, with shades of beige dominating the new-in SKUs for core colours. Sweet Lilac and Pink Peacock of the Feminine & Fun palette were also among the strong contenders, accounting for 15% of the newly added SKUs.
Living Coral, which was named Pantone Colour of the Year 2019, represented 6% of new arrivals from the season’s colours.
Movement in the Season
The key seasonal colours increased in March (Chart 1) to gear up for Spring, with the highest peak recorded in June, especially across most of Sunset Flare and Feminine & Fun colours. The Core Classics however reached a peak in March before all colours experienced a dip in April before showing an upward trend towards the end of the season.
The reds – Fiesta and Jester Red showed decline despite starting off strong early in the season.
Retailers were seemingly not reacting to the more autumnal greens, as Pepper Stem from Back to Nature palette was the least stocked colour, while its counterpart, Terrarium Moss went on a downward trend throughout the season.
Social Media Influence
While runway shows remained a key event to present the next season’s trends, social media has become one of the recent driving forces in fashion. As influencers have a wider reach, fast fashion retailers relied upon styles emulated by some influencers such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner in producing their next collection.
Punchy and vibrant hues dominated the fashion influencers’ Instagram pages during the SS19 season. Among colours that were showcased the most include vibrant orange, yellow, pink and royal blue. Neon green, which was introduced in 2018 was still going strong this season.
Pastel colours, particularly lilac, were popular too. This colour, which also appeared in this season’s Pantone colours, was popularised by Kylie Jenner as she wore a lilac Versace dress at the 2019 Met Gala. The purple shade, which did not take off in 2018 when Ultra Violet was announced as the colour of the year, turned out to be more popular in 2019.
Since influencers typically curate their feed through the use of colours as part of creating their identity, it is then highly influential for consumers who have the shades reiterated.
In the subsequent pages, we pulled together the bestselling styles for the key fashion colours this season – Sunset Flare and Feminine & Fun for a visual understanding on what has worked for fast fashion throughout SS19.
Bestselling Styles of Sunset Flare
The bestselling items for this bright and joyful shade of yellow were mostly found in solids. It was not only well received for dressier tops and dresses but also a popular colour choice for swimwear. Fashion Nova led with the most newness in this colour.
Suited with its bold hue, this enlivening orange was well liked for sporty tops and outerwear, as well as bodycon dresses.
Bestselling Styles of Sunset Flare (cont’d)
The biggest fashion colour contributor was commonly found across dresses, tops in flowy silhouettes. In contrast, the tailored trend depicted by longline blazers were also well received in this colour.
The colour of the year was also commonly found in dresses and tops but was mostly preferred in feminine and flowy silhouettes.
Bestselling Styles of Feminine & Fun
This sweet hue was prominent in dresses and tops with feminine and romantic silhouettes. Fashion Nova, Boohoo and ASOS were amongst the retailers who stocked up on this colour the most during the season.
Tight-fitting dresses, bodysuits and swimwear were more popular in this vibrant shade. New arrivals in this shade could be found mostly at Fashion Nova and Boohoo.
Spotlight on: Living Coral
Overall, new arrivals in the coral shade over the past 18 months saw a downward trend, with newness dipping during FW18, as the colour is synonymous to the spring/summer season. Newness for the colour was much higher in SS18 (34%), as a lighter coral shade, Blooming Dahlia, was named as one of the key colours during the season.
Sell-outs for corals also saw a decrease by 8% in SS19 compared to previous year. Despite this, there was a clear growth in Living Coral after Pantone announced it as 2019 Colour of the Year on December 6, 2018. It was stocked aggressively starting April and showed a stable sell-out performance throughout SS19.
Fashion Nova, Boohoo and Next were among the retailers driving Living Coral in SS19. Dresses commanded the biggest contributor to the colour, followed by Tops and Outerwear.
Living Coral on Social Media
Despite being worn by some celebrities such as Regina King and Jennifer Lopez at awards shows, Living Coral was still relatively absent on fashion influencers’ social media accounts. Unlike coral, other punchier tones such as yellow and orange were more popular as they were influenced by streetwear, that is still a dominant driver for trend. Having said that, the Resort 2020 shows, which showcased a combination of bright and pastel colours including coral, signalled the shade to continue trending next year, making it as a safe investment for next Spring.
Southeast Asia Adoption of Key Colours
Key SS19 Colour Newness
Southeast Asia’s homegrown labels – Pomelo Fashion and Love, Bonito had also invested in the colour of the year. Despite stocking in low volume, new arrivals in Living Coral did see a 17% increase in SS19 compared to previous year. Communications via newsletters and lookbooks were also used to promote the colour.
Besides tapping into the colour of the year, retailers were also reacting to the Pantone colours, as seen in Pomelo Fashion’s ‘The Runaways’ collection. The collection, which was released in February 2019 showcased tops, dresses and skirts decked in the season’s key colours such as Fiesta, Living Coral, Aspen Gold and Sweet Lilac.
Chinese New Year Colour Adoption
For the 2019 Chinese New Year Collection, both brands played with a combination of soft and vibrant hues. The key colour for the festive season, red, was an orangey red shade like Fiesta. Deep red such as Jester Red was used frequently by Love, Bonito. Other use of colours include soft pink, white, coral and emerald green.
Power of Social Media: As dependence on social media grows, consumers now are highly influenced by what they see online – especially when it comes to fashion. Therefore, runways are no longer predominantly the trend-led avenue, with retailers and consumers turning to social media and influencers as the inspiration hub.
As seen in Chart 1, the SS19 Pantone colours that saw aggressive uptake were in line with the styles and colours put forward by the influencers on social media. The neon green colour, which was introduced in 2018 by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively is still going strong in 2019 as influencers continue to popularise the colour. Influencers such as Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Billie Eilish are amongst the ones to watch to see how this trending colour progresses.
Limitation of Trend Forecasting: Trend forecasting has been used by retailers for many years to draw inspiration for their collection, including Pantone. While most colours predicted were hits rather than misses, Ultra Violet, which was the 2018 Colour of the Year did not take off as predicted. Though Living Coral performed better with increasing newness during the season, the colour was not invested as aggressively by retailers in 2019 as the YoY comparison showed a decline.
Next Steps for Brands
Increase Brand Involvement: Social media has opened up opportunities for brands to not only monitor the latest contents and happenings through influencers’ posts or even live fashion shows, but also interact directly with their customers.
As social media plays a big role in driving the fashion industry now, brands should pay attention to the platform in gauging the latest trends led by influencers. For a start, brands should monitor which influencers their customers are following online. Increasing involvement with consumers on social media would also help brands understand their consumers better. Creating online polls for them on which look they love the most would help brands determine their consumers’ preferences.
Pay Attention to Data: When it comes to commercial interpretation, relying solely on runway trends would entail risk. Thus, having a data-backed tool could help brands in delivering efficiency with a higher rate of success.
With trend analytics, brands could approach the Living Coral trend by stocking items in this colour in small quantities for a capsule collection, while investing more on the dominant shade of orange and yellow such as Turmeric, Aspen Gold and Mango Mojito. Looking at historical data could also help brands understand how certain trends and colours perform over time.