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Designers Use Color as a Mood Enhancer in S/S ’21 Collections

After a tumultuous and emotional year, the gravity of color in fashion, as well as other consumer product categories, is a sure bet. A natural mood enhancer and soother, color is part of a designer’s storytelling arsenal, and fashion watchers finally got a first look at how it will play out in Spring/Summer ’21 collections.

The collections presented at New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks and remotely through digital alternatives offered an even splay of color. Calming and practical neutrals, soft pastels and invigorating jolts of saturated hues are all on the S/S ’21 color card.

Pastel power

The allure of pastels has transcended seasons, but the way designers use the hues for S/S ’21 feels new and fresh. Fashion Snoops vice president and creative director of women’s wear Melissa Moylan said pastels are being placed on minimalist wardrobe staples, as well as relaxed utilitarian pieces for a subtle “fashion update.”

Buttermilk, lavender, peppermint and sky blue, she added, are among the most common.

Heuritech, an artificial intelligence-powered trend forecasting platform, echoed the color direction and specifically named light blue as a key pastel color to watch. The tech firm forecasts the visibility of light blue in S/S ’21 collections will be 10 percent higher than what it was in S/S ’20 collections and noted that it is gaining traction in men’s as well as in unisex collections.

Pink passion

The enduring appeal of pink powers on. “Pinks made a big impression,” Moylan said.

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While designers made their preference for specific shades of pink known in prior seasons, S/S ’21 welcomed a broad range of pinks to the table, she added. Light ballet pinks, cheerful bubblegum pinks as well as shades that veered toward coral territory were seen in collections.

And emphasis on “seen.” Moylan said there was an increase in monochromatic looks, which injected newness and optimism to minimalist wardrobe staples.

Orange crush

Bright orange has dominated street style and now it is filtering into the runway, Heuritech reported. With potential to grow in women’s, men’s and unisex collections, the French firm expects to see the juicy color become a popular choice for S/S ’21 tops, dresses and shorts.

The appeal of orange, however, extends beyond traffic-cone shades. From carrot and tangerine—shades that Moylan said have a hot or warm cast—to soft corals with pure orange undertones, orange complemented several S/S ’21 themes.

Bolder hues found a home in collections that explored tropical notions of escapism, she said, while corals were important to collections dense with raw, nature-inspired textures.

Neon lights

Just when the glow of neon colors appeared to be fizzling out, designers turned up the dial yet again. In an effort to bring the feeling of joy, excess and nostalgia back to fashion, designers imbued their collections with florescent highlighter green and hot pink.

Though the return of neon surprised Moylan, she said it felt fresh in collections that focused on relaxed youthful garments.

Neutral ground

It may be against the nature of neutral colors to be a trend, but the influence and importance of wardrobe staples shined a spotlight on classic colors, Moylan said.

Back-to-basics color splashed across the runway—from khaki-colored utilitarian separates and navy knitwear to white formal and informal dresses, she added. Head-to-toe vanilla, she added, introduced a new dimension and richness to neutral ensembles.

Beige was an important “crowd pleaser” and helped balance some of the shocking neon concepts, Heuritech reported.

And while interest in brown has been building, the tech firm pinpointed light shades of the earthy hues to watch for S/S ’21, reporting that it was an important color for monochromatic catwalk and street-style looks.