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Why David’s Bridal Applies ‘Military’ Precision to Color Matching

A wedding is all about connection and cohesion for one magical day—but that can all go awry when one of the bridesmaids shows up with a dress that’s two shades darker than the rest of the procession.

That’s the kind of debacle Color Center, a proprietary color management technology process designed by David’s Bridal, is designed to avoid.

On Monday, the wedding outfitter detailed the technology behind this process, revealing how color spectrophotometric analysis and color quality control can make sure dress colors match exactly no matter what.

“Color is a driving force behind many wedding-related decisions, whether a bride wants the same shade across bridesmaids or a multi-colored palette, we know we need to be a pioneer in the color space,” Paula Arruda, director of production and quality for David’s Bridal, said in a statement. “There is only one other organization that uses this much rigor in controlling apparel color, and it is the U.S. Military for their dress blues.

“However, they only apply that rigor to one color in one light source, while we do over 60 colors in three light sources across 20 plus fabrics,” she said, noting that David’s Bridal will incorporate additional colors if “new trends emerge.”

The relative color of a garment can change depending on lighting and circumstance, according to David’s Bridal.

Color Center by David's Bridal uses color spectrophotometric analysis and color quality control to ensure dresses match directly regardless of their origin
Marigold is a big color for autumn weddings at David’s Bridal. Courtesy

David’s Bridal made color matching a priority, especially considering a party of bridesmaids can be composed of individuals from disparate locations and “orders are more likely to be made in different stores or online than they are together.”

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To ensure color integrity across the board, the David’s Bridal utilizes a system of global color centers that develop standardized dyed fabrics with the help of “highly trained color experts” and data provided by visual and spectrophotometric analysis. Each color team includes two primary decision makers and a pair of support staff, a small size that helps the wedding specialist “keep our decisions consistent,” Arruda told Sourcing Journal.

Ensuring color consistency across disparate locations is not without its challenges, not the least of which “is getting everyone aligned on pass/fail criteria,” Arruda noted. “The viewing process is subjective, although we have tried to objectify with spectrophotometric data,” she said. “Every fabric in every color behaves differently.

“I have worked with my color counterpart overseas for 17 years,” she added, and “this definitely helps.”

Color Center is also made possible, in part, because of the retailer’s ongoing partnership since 2002 with Color Solutions International, a color standards and communication tools company.

“With so few color experts in the world, it is an incredibly specialized and niche profession and we’re honored to serve our customer in this capacity with Paula and her Color Center team,” David’s Bridal chief marketing officer Kelly Cook said.

Color Center by David's Bridal uses color spectrophotometric analysis and color quality control to ensure dresses match directly regardless of their origin
Color matching matters when far-flung bridal parties need exact shades to ring in a bride’s big day. Courtesy

David’s Bridal also works with its trim and fabric supplies from all over the world to ensure lifelong color integrity for its garments, the company said, creating its own custom color standards and dye formulas and “testing every swatch.”

Not only that, but the same suite of colors can be applied to a range of products including party favors, flower girl dresses and robes.

“David’s is in a unique position being both a leader in the bridal arena, and a large-scale retailer with over 300 stores and a vast online presence,” Arruda said.

Classic Blue might be Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020, but at David’s Bridal, a “dusty palette and sunset hues” are “on fire,” Arruda noted. “Our rich earth tones such as DB Cinnamon, Marigold and Juniper are going to be showstopping for fall weddings,” she added. “I’m seeing some luxurious jewel tones in our future as well.”