Post-Season Review: FW19 Colour Trends

In this review, we decoded fast fashion's reception towards Fall/Winter 2019 Pantone colours - and examined how social media played a crucial role in driving colour trends.

By Atiqah Kamarudin

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Introduction

The Pantone Colour Trend Report, an important colour guide for brands, is still primarily used in assortment planning. However, not all of the colour predictions translated well into retail. Fashion is now an industry ruled by its consumers, where products are now being pulled rather than pushed to them. Social media has also become an avenue to gauge consumers’ interests and set new trends.

In this report, we drew insights and validated the reception towards Fall/Winter 2019 colours derived from runways and social media from these fast fashion retailers:

 

  1. Zara
  2. Asos
  3. Boohoo
  4. Topshop
  5. H&M
  6. River Island
  7. Fashion Nova
  8. Missguided
  9. Urban Outfitters
  10. Mango

 

More than 250,000 data points were screened across top womenswear categories – Tops, Dresses, Outerwear, Jumpsuits & Playsuits, Pants & Leggings, Skirts and Co-Ords – from July to December 2019.

 

All data used in this report comes from products retailing online, as tracked by Omnilytics, unless otherwise mentioned.

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Fall/Winter 2019 Colour Palette

The Fall/Winter 2019 colours from Pantone’s Fashion Colour Trend Report were a blend of classic autumnal shades and strong, punchier hues. Four distinct colour stories were established from these wide range of colours – Lush Nature, Fearless Brights, Sunset Flare, and The Classics.

The autumnal shades such as red and brown were the key colours this season, which showed up in the form of Rocky Road, Sugar Almond, Chili Pepper and Biking Red.

Feminine shades also stood out in various shades of pink – from the bright Fruit Dove to soft and warm tones of Peach Pink and Crème de Pêche. The 2019 it-colour, Living Coral was not included in this season’s key colours. Instead the variation of the colour was well represented through the two peach shades.

Other prominent colours included earthy, natural shades in blue and green, which were prominent on the runways from Gucci to Christian Siriano.

Fall/Winter 2019 Colour Comparison

Overall, the FW19 colour palettes were punchier and bolder compared to FW18, which showcased a set of regal colours with touches of soft pastel shades. FW18 also saw more yellow tones, which were not present in the key seasonal colours this year.

 

 

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New-In Movement

Colours with the Most Newness

The total newly added SKUs in the Fall/Winter 2019 Pantone colours totalled 9,077 items across the 10 e-tailers analysed. Fashion seasonal colours dominated the newness in volume (55%), which was led by Lush Nature (32%) and Fearless Brights (14%). However, The Classics on its own commanded almost half of the newness (45%), with Vanilla Custard and Paloma taking the lead in the new-in SKUs for core colours.

Movement In-Season

The key seasonal colours started to increase in August (Chart 1) to gear up for Fall, with the highest peak seen mostly in September, especially across the Lush Nature palette. While most of the colours started to show a downward trend starting October, Biking Red from the Sweet Flame palette continued to rise further in October. All colours experienced a dip in November before rising again towards the end of the season.

The reds, which were represented by Chili Pepper and Biking Red, were the most aggressively stocked colours by retailers throughout the season, followed by the solid brown, Rocky Road. The forest green shade, Eden was also another popular colour among the retailers.

Meanwhile, retailers were not reacting to the bright and warm shades from the Fearless Brights and Sweet Flame palettes. These shades showed a downward trend and were stocked at a low quantity, as they are less synonymous with fall or winter colour palettes.

 

 

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Trending Colours on Social Media

The main colours that dominated fashion influencers’ Instagram pages were similar to the Fall/Winter 2019 Pantone colours, especially deep brown, tonal grey, blue, and forest green.

Other colours that were commonly featured also included bright tones such as bright pink and neon green that were not part of this season’s key colours. These pop of colours have been gracing the influencers’ Instagram profiles since late 2018 and showed no signs of slowing down as they continued to be popular throughout 2019.

 

 

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Social Media Colour Performance

To better understand the impact of social media trends on retailers and consumers, we have analysed monthly new-in and sell-out counts, shown in Chart 2 and 3.

Based on Chart 2, retailers had reacted to the trending colours by consistently stocking those shades throughout the year before slowly decreasing the volume in September. However, the colours continuously showed steady sell-outs month-on-month throughout the season, signifying the relevance of these colours.

As these bright colours managed to perform well during the cold season, the popularity of these colours is expected to continue through Spring/Summer 2020, especially in Swimwear & Beachwear.

 

 

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Bestselling Styles of Lush Nature

Rocky Road

The bestselling items for this deep, earthy brown shade were mostly found in solids. It was mainly well-received for minimal dresses, jumpers, coats and jumpsuits. Asos and Boohoo led with the most newness and sell-out for this colour.

Bluestone

Suited with its understated hue, this ashy blue was well liked for simple cut outerwear and tops, as well as dresses.

 

 

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Bestselling Styles of Fearless Brights

Chili Pepper

One of the biggest fashion colour contributors this season was commonly found across flowy dresses, puffed-sleeve tops, long-line blazers and oversized jumpers.

 

Fruit Dove

In contrast, tight-fitting dresses and tops were more popular in this extroverted shade of pink. New arrivals in this colour could be found mostly at Boohoo, Fashion Nova and Missguided.

 

 

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Bestselling Styles of Social Media Colours

Bright Pink

Similar to Fruit Dove, this vibrant shade was also commonly found and favoured for styles that were more daring and also in relaxed yet statement-making outerwear.

 

Neon Green

Another popular neon hue in green was also prominent in oversized tops and outerwear with a sporty vibe, as well as across bodycon dresses.

 

 

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Pantone Colour of the Year

Living Coral

Over the past 18 months, the 2019 Pantone Colour of the Year saw a downward trend, with a 42% decrease in sell-out volume in Fall/Winter 2019 compared to the previous year. Despite seeing a spike in newness following the announcement in December 2018, Living Coral’s sell-out did not grow in the same magnitude as its new-in.

The colour also failed to create a year-long impact as retailers rapidly reduced newness in this shade throughout Fall/Winter 2019.

Classic Blue

Classic Blue, a timeless yet safe blue hue, was announced as 2020 Colour of the Year by Pantone on December 4, 2019. This colour is expected to show a stable demand in new-in and sell-out throughout 2020 as the shade represents a core colour, regarded as a universal favourite. The consistent sell-out volume shown in Chart 5 for Classic Blue over the past 18 months further indicated the possible stability of this colour. Newness is also anticipated to pick up again in the coming months as it also appeared as one of Spring/Summer 2020 key colours.

Influencers have also been donning outfits in blue shades since Summer 2019, which will further push the popularity of the colour.

 

 

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Conclusion

Main Findings

Trend Validation is Key: The runways and Pantone have been used by brands for many years to curate their collections. While runway trends have higher accuracy than trend forecasting, some seasonal colours did not take off as predicted once they reached the masses.

Based on Chart 1, some colours which were popular across influencers such as Orange Tiger and Dark Cheddar were not invested aggressively by retailers in Fall/Winter 2019 as newness intake showed a decline throughout the season. However, sell-out data for these shades were promising.

Growing Power of Social Media: The growing dependence on social media is showing no sign of slowing down, making it an important avenue to scout for trends. As clearly demonstrated in Chart 2 and 3, clothes seen on influencers and their colour-curated Instagram feed evidently have significant impact on retail performance. Despite certain colours such as neon green and pink not being included in the season’s key colours, these shades have proven to be relevant for multiple seasons now. Brands however were not reacting to the demand accordingly with decreasing newness seen during Fall/Winter 2019.

 

Next Steps for Brands

Validate Trends Using Data Analytics: As seen from Ultra Violet’s performance in 2018, relying solely on runway trends is risky. By charting and monitoring the monthly growth of specific trends over a time period will help brands make informed decision with higher rate of success.

With trend analytics, brands can be more optimistic and confidently approach the 2020 Colour of the Year by consistently stocking items in this colour, judging from the stable historical data of new-in and sell-out count of the shade.

Be Aware of Trend Sources: Although core colours consistently make up a higher portion of sell-out and are easier to get right, brands should also pay attention to key seasonal colours. While doing so, it is important for brands to not lose sight of other trend-led avenues such as Instagram and street style, where trends are established by consumers, not retailers.

As influencers continue to play a pivotal role in retail, getting the right product at the right time to consumers is even more crucial. Therefore, brands that choose to disregard, or are slow to react to colour trends from social media – and validate them with data – will lose out in sales and eventually market share.

 

 

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Meet the Author

Atiqah Kamarudin

Nur Atiqah Kamarudin is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Omnilytics. With past experience at Nielsen and Euromonitor, she has spent years analysing data and unearthing insights to help brands and retailers make informed decisions. She currently produces reports on the fashion industry and its changing retail scene across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Southeast Asia.

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