According to this article black and white is back in fashion this year. Hopefully one day soon brown and beige will be back and I will once more be a fashionable gent about town!
Colour Forecasting is big business. What is it? Well, if you search on the internet you may find something like this:
Design firms and retail markets utilize forecasting services to predict trends in color. Color forecasting helps designers (who work a season ahead) what fabrics and styles will be popular in future months or years. Color forecasting resources help predict trends in the fashion industry, and also home home design.
This suggests that colour forecasting predicts which colours will be fashionable in the future; for example, next year. However, I think there is another way to look at it. I am not at all sure that it is a prediction process at all; I prefer to refer to it as a marketing process. This is what happens. A group of people work very hard and have a great deal of expertise and through their activity and global network they produce a ‘prediction’ of what colour will be popular next year. Normally the prediction is not a single colour but a colour palette; but for simplicity let’s assume that it is a single colour and it’s red. The last thing retailers want is stock they cannot sell so they are very keen to find out what the colour forecasters are saying. When they hear that red is going to be popular they make sure that they purchase and stock large amounts of red stuff. Fashion magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue want readers to buy their magazines and want to be seen to be on trend and so they publish story after story about how the next big thing is going to be red. Now think about the consumer. The fashion magazines are full of red and the stores are full of red. What do you think the consumer is going to buy? Can you see why I think the process is more about consumer manipulation than it is about prediction (in the scientific sense)?
Actually, that colour forecasting is not a really a prediction process isn’t even my main gripe. Rather, it is that colour forecasting (and the fashion industry more generally) encourages people to buy more clothes than they need. Do we really need to keep up with the latest fashions? Our consumption of textiles is already unsustainable and we cannot go on behaving as we have done in the past.
One of the final-year students in the School of Design at the University of Leeds is undertaking a research dissertation in this area which I am supervising. She’s running a short questionnaire and needs as many people as possible to complete it. It’s very short; please take a look here.
I am very lucky to be working with Sea-hwa Won from South Korea who is here in Leeds for three years undertaking a PhD in colour design. Her PhD is about …. well, I can’t tell you that yet because it might influence the answers you give to her on-line survey. She has just launched an on-line survey about colour and product design and it would be great if you would help her research by clicking on the link below and completing the survey. Later, when the survey is complete I will say something about what the research is about.
Click here to take the colour survey. It only takes a minute of your time and for that you will receive the warm glow of satisfaction that you have contributed to the advancement of colour science.
Really like this set of fashion images. You can view them at all at Chicquero’s blog at http://chicquero.com/2012/10/18/creepy-fashion-collage/
If you are looking for inspiration for a colour scheme then you could do worse than look at the Kuler web site.
The UK government is set to rebrand its departments with bold new colour schemes. The new colours include lots of blues and greens; for example, navy blue for the Foreign Office, bright blue for the NHS and green for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, the The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is purple at the moment, is reassigned bright pink.
Read more here.
The purpose of this blog is to collate all sorts of interesting facts and news stories for which colour is a main component and also to provide some education about colour and colour science. So I scan the newspapers and websites for interesting stories about colour that I can comment on (actually, I mainly look at news stories on google). Over the last three years or so I have come across all kinds of interesting topics but today I came across something quite unexpected.
Today I came across some research led by Sarah Johns at the University of Kent that reveals that men prefer pink female genitals to red ones. Her team set up a website that allowed women to submit (anonymously, you will be pleased to know) photographs of their parts. Four of these photos were each retouched (digitally) so that one pale pink, another light pink, one dark pink and the final one red. They then asked 40 heterosexual men to rate each of the 16 images on a scale of 0-100 for attractiveness. The researchers had thought that men may prefer red vulvas since it is commonly thought that red lipstick and clothing is a proxy for genitals. So it was somewhat surprising when they found that men preferred the pink photographs to the red ones.
For more details on this story please visit here.
I don’t know if it is related to my recent post that people, especially females buy bright colours in times of austerity, but I just came across a report that claims that women like pink gadgets and laptops.
Dr Gloria Moss, Reader in Human Resources at Bucks New University said:
“There’s a very strong tendency for men to prefer hard, rectangular and dark shapes. While women showed a preference towards more curved, and pink design. I don’t think it’s anything for women to be afraid of that women like different colours, because the roots of the colour preference take womens’ responsibility beyond hearth and home. The differences have their origins in the different activities carried out by men and women over the ages.”
Moss used a range of website designs created by men and women to test her hypothesis amongst a sample group of students at Oxford. Men preferred linear, rectangular designs, while women preferred colourful designs with large images.
I’m a man but I also like pink. So clearly the above does not apply to all women and all men.
For balance see my post on pink stinks.
I just noticed that quite a few of my PhD students have blogs so I thought I would give them a mention.
Jason Kao is studying for a PhD in the generation of 3D movies – particularly interested in the effect of hue and saturation contrasts on the strength of the 3D percept (as in, red objects tend to appear forward whereas blue objects recede). You can read his blog here.
Jade Smith is undertaking a PhD to look at how we can understand more about how consumers use clothes in order to better design clothes that will be used longer. As you may know, our current consumption of textiles in the world is not sustainable even from the persepctive of the demands made of water during their manufacture and processing. You can read her blog here.
Maryam Da is undertaking a PhD in colour semiotics. Specifically, she is running a massive on-line global colour survey to determine the meanings that people attribute to different colours. She is also using a clever methoodology whereby each person does just a little bit of the experiment – in fact, we ask each person about just one colour. So there is not excuse not to help out. Please have a go at the survey – it takes less than a minute. You can read her blog here.
Famously Henry Ford, speaking of the Model T car in 1909, said “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”
Black is, I think, one of the most interesting colours. I recently came across a book – think it was called A History of Black – which was all about this one colour. In my 25 years working in colour perhaps the most frequent question I have ever been asked is “Is black a colour?”
One interesting aspect of black is that it is almost timeless in its ability to be fashionable. This is one reason why it is worn by lots of people who are particularly conscious of colour (because they work in fashion or interior design etc.). It seems strange at first that people who are most interested and aware of colour are more than likely to wear black. Black is a regular occurrence in the attire of my colleagues in the School of Design at the University of Leeds. Given that it’s timeless, it is also safe. There is no danger of being seen in the wrong colour.
I mainly wear brown. I wonder what that says about me?