Pink and yellow have had a strong grip on fashion for several years, but a new color is on track to speak to post-pandemic consumers’ yearning for hope, optimism, stability and balance.
Trend forecasting firm WGSN and color specialist Coloro named Digital Lavender the color of the year for 2023. The gender-inclusive color represents a heightened awareness of wellness and virtual escapism, bridging both the digital and physical worlds.
Digital Lavender’s restorative properties connect to healing rituals, which are increasingly becoming a part of everyday life as consumers place a stronger focus on physical and mental health coming out of quarantine and social distancing restrictions. Research shows colors with a shorter wavelength, such as Digital Lavender, evoke calmness and serenity, according to WGSN.
Digital Lavender is already established in the youth and activewear markets—the color featured in Cardi B’s collaboration with Reebok, as well as in loungewear collections by Lululemon and Pangaia—and WGSN anticipates it will broaden into all fashion products. Though vibrant shades of pink and renewing hues of green were featured prominently in collections, this shift to lavender was evident in Fall/Winter 21-22 collections. Designers like Salvatore Ferragamo, Blumarine, St. John and Susan Fang used the hue for ethereal dresses and cozy knits.
The color’s digital aspect, however, came to life in F/W 21-22 collections by MSGM, Dion Lee, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and Feng Chen Wang. MSGM applied the color to unisex garments with glossy, cracked and high-pile textures. Dion Lee and Feng Chen Wang mixed the color with denim, while Charles Jeffrey Loverboy featured the color in boxy suiting, printed leggings and trench coats.
The color’s sensorial quality, meanwhile, makes it ideal for self-care rituals, healing practices and wellness products. A familiar color in the digital landscape, WGSN expects the “imaginative color to converge across virtual and physical worlds,” making it a key hue for consumer electronics, digitized wellness, mood-boosting lighting and homewares.
“As consumers find solace and comfort inhabiting the virtual space, the influence of video games and virtual realities will become all-encompassing, distorting the boundaries between our online and offline existence,” said Joanne Thomas, Coloro head of content.
Optimistic color palette
Digital Lavender is just one aspect of the 2023 color palette selected by WGSN and Coloro.
Organic hues will tap into rising interest in nature and the countryside, with wholesome natural tones and low-impact and circular sources having a stronger appeal. On the flipside, saturated and stimulating colors will also return, driven by a longing for positivity and self-expression.
“We anticipate challenges ahead, however, we believe consumers will seek out colors that they can engage with positively,” said Jenny Clark, WGSN head of color. “This belief drove a shift towards more chromatic colors that feel activating and upbeat.”
Luscious Red is one of those expressive colors. Described as a digitized bright, the color has the power to engage and connect with customers either as an accent or as a singular hue for maximum impact.
“Red is a powerful color that can raise the heart rate and tap into themes of desire, passion and empowerment, and this particular hue has a lightness and translucency that also feels immersive and hyper-real, making it perfect for both physical and digital products and experiences,” WGSN stated.
Sundial, a “wholesome ochre yellow” that recalls a reconnection to the countryside and the slow living movement, is the main organic hue in the palette. “With rising interest in craft, community, sustainability and more balanced lifestyles, earthy yellows such as Sundial will have a stronger resonance,” WGSN stated.
The saturated earth tone makes it a solid choice for fashion and accessories, and it lends itself well to textural fabrics that can either bring out Sundial’s warmth or earthiness.
Tranquil Blue brings stillness and calm, which WGSN said are bound to connect with consumers who are “seeking to counterbalance overwhelming emotions.” The mid-tone is already an emerging color in premium women’s wear and is forecast to translate to all other fashion categories in monochromatic designs and as a complementary color to pastels and neutrals.
Verdigris, a saturated color that resembles the greenish pigment formed on oxidized copper, rounds out the color story. Though inspired by nature, the color is infused with nostalgia, calling to mind 1980s sportswear and activewear that youth markets now look to for cues.
“This color is already emerging in the casualwear and streetwear market, and we expect it to have a broader appeal by 2023,” WGSN stated. “Use Verdigris as a trans seasonal update for teal, relevant for all product categories. Its bold quality also makes it great for driving engagement on social channels.”