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Pantone Names Nature Prime Muse for S/S 2021 Color Trends

The natural world is the focus of most things these days, and now Pantone is naming it the main inspiration for Spring/Summer 2021 trends in color.

In a recent webinar, vice president of Pantone Color Institute Laurie Pressman discussed central concepts and color stories painting a picture for next year’s warmer months in what it’s calling a “Botanica” theme. According to Pressman, the prevailing pressure for brands to be carbon neutral has launched a move toward natural, earth-inspired palettes that pay homage to the planet that society is scrambling to save.

“With nature top of mind for so many, it makes perfect sense that many of the key color trends we’re seeing today come directly from nature,” she said.

Society’s move toward self-sufficiency and simplicity is expressed in natural palettes that include a variety of green hues, with undertones ranging from blue—which creates shades of teal and aqua—to yellow—which makes mustard and grassy tones.

And while neon and metallic shades might not be common throughout nature, they exist in the quieter, less-explored areas of the world—the translucent interior of a seashell; the brightly colored floor of the sea. It’s why Pantone sees colors inspired by coral and algae making their way into S/S 2021 fashion.

Similarly, earthy taupes and grays and spicy orange-browns make up a key palette for the season, expressing a utilitarian theme that’s taken over the runway.

Pantone outlined a series of color sub-stories, including “lichen,” a palette of yellow-green and mustard that nod to the many innovations in natural dyes. For example, a common ingredient used to make yellow is chamomile which, when worn or ingested, can evoke a calming feeling—much like the effects of this palette.

Pantone Color Institute outlined Spring/Summer 2021 color trends that highlight earth tones and textures and nod to sustainability.
Kendall Jenner, Burberry, Fall Winter 2020 WWD/Shutterstock

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Another color story, “fragrance,” celebrates “richly perfumed” shades of pastels that reflect the joy of the warmer months. Soft pink, aqua, yellow and lilac make up a quiet, floral palette.

Whites are also popular for 2021 and serve as a bridge to the warmer season. “Spore,” Pantone’s color story that consists of white, cream, light gray and soft mint, reflects a purer, simpler life.

But it’s not just color that’s being influenced by nature in 2021. Textures are also front and center, highlighting airy florals, dry, crepe-like effects and spiky, structured silhouettes inspired by succulents and other natural elements.

“There are no flat colors in nature,” said Pressman, adding that technological advancements have made it possible to add depth and texture to precisely mimic nature’s most interesting shades.

To that point, true black is replaced with shades of gray, which show up in Pantone’s “funghi” palette of timeless neutrals and “plantoid” range of gray-greens that meet at the intersection of nature and tech.