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Color Will Have an Emotional Effect on Post-COVID-19 Apparel Purchases

Dark days lie ahead for the fashion industry as the COVID-19 outbreak forces the sector—from factories to retailers—to close for an unknown period of time. But when a sense of normalcy does re-emerge, color will be an impactful tool for companies to use to renew consumers’ spirits and drive shoppers to buy.

In a recent webinar, trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops described five color stories for Spring/Summer 2021 that will play important roles in the fashion industry’s recovery.

“Color is always important from a consumer sentiment perspective, but it’s going to be more powerful,” said Jenna Guarascio, Fashion Snoops director of content strategy.

The season, said founder Lilly Berelovich, will be one that calls for thoughtful moves by designers and brands.

“Take big steps and dare to pivot and position,” she said. “Take those bold steps that you couldn’t take before.”

Soft Energy

Vulnerable, buttery, lucid, comfy, healing, recharging and kind are among the ways Fashion Snoops describes Soft Energy, one of the most emotional color stories for S/S ’21.

“Our vulnerability is coming out louder than ever before,” Berelovich said. “Soft pastels mixed with neutrals bring us to a comfort zone.”

While the palette is comprised of traditional spring pastels—think yellow, lavender, pink and baby blue—there’s a vibrancy to the shades that toes the line between demure and loud. Warm-tinted neutrals like blush pink and mushroom are included in the palette and help ground the amped-up pastels.

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Vibrant pastels are on deck for Spring/Summer 2021.
Paris street style Cornel Cristian Petrus/Shutterstock

Soft Energy, Guarascio added, is a way for brands to reinvent perennial pastels and gender codes. “These shades are gentle and tenacious. They recharge the spirit and provide a sense of strength,” she said.


Child-like fashion—be it cartoon licensing on designer wares, or girlish accessories like headbands and clips—have been on the upswing. Color is following that youthful path.

Described as playful, quirky, radical, off-centered and oddly satisfying, Fun-demental is Fashion Snoops’ most spirited and jovial color palette for S/S ’21. “We have to play and find joy and engage in things that make us happy,” Berelovich said.

Vibrant colors are a must-have for Spring/Summer 2021.
New York City street style Shutterstock

Fun-damental is based on hyper-real, indulgent colors, Guarascio said, like sour green, villainous purple, jolt orange and flouncy pink. The colors have an energetic saturation that nearly competes with the intensity of neon hues. The colors, she added, offer the spark consumers need.

Though the colors are electric together, they also work well with soft neutrals—especially pale pink, Guarascio said, which infuses a soft, nostalgic feeling into the color story.


Objects that remind consumers of something that is pleasing and soothing will gain greater importance in a post COVID-19 world. Already, Berelovich said, consumers are yearning for “memories of yesterday.”

Fashion Snoops’ S/S ’21 color story Tintedcore taps into that desire for comfort. Described as non-binary, nostalgic, overcast, inclusive and pleasing, this contemporary collection of neutrals offers a subtle vibrancy.

Sand, yellowish beige and gray-tinted blues and greens make up the calming color story, which Berelovich pointed out has a vintage undertone. “When we look at the future, we look at the past,” she said. “And historians right now are looking at what we can learn from the past.”

Neutrals make a statement.
Off-White Spring 2019 Pixelformula/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

The “color-infused” neutrals are versatile, meaning consumers will want to wear them head-to-toe as a gown or as a lounge set for the home, Guarascio said.

It’s also an important color palette that designers should consider for bottoms. “We’re always putting interesting colors at the top, but [Tintedcore] give you that grounding and neutrality and some newness,” Berelovich said.


The world is in a state of uncertainty and colors are mimicking that unpredictability. Transformers, a color story that Fashion Snoops describes as deceptive, pensive, provocative and unpredictable, encapsulates the feeling many have right now—a feeling of being on the edge of something less familiar.

“Our team noticed that unexpected shades were becoming important—shades that you couldn’t nail down,” Berelovich said.

Transformers also gives brands and retailers more mileage out of their color selection. The palette’s ambiguity allows consumers to interpret the color in different ways. One color is on the verge of another, Guarascio added, or even feel like they are two colors at once.

Jewel tones are on deck for Spring/Summer 2021
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge t: Photo by

Colors include non-black black and brown-blacks, as well as updated jewel tones like soft navy, raspberry red, dark jade and an orange-tinted tan Guarascio described as “scotch brown.” The colors offer a therapeutic balance, she added, as tonal combinations, or look decadent when they’re juxtaposed with vibrant shades like lemon green.

Natural Dyes

After the coronavirus pandemic, “we’re going to look for a feeling of the outdoors more than before,” Berelovich said.

S/S ’21 will be that moment to reconnect with the Earth, and it will be reflected in Natural Dyes, a color story that looks like it was born in nature.

Colorful neutrals are on deck for Spring/Summer 2021.
London street style Wayne Tippetts/Shutterstock

Here, shades of plum, kelp green and ocean blue are juxtaposed with spicier colors like mustard and turmeric. The colors, Berelovich said, feel edible and coated with wet luster.

“Colors literally feel like they are coming from grass and water,” she said. “They look like they’ve been soaked in natural color.”