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The Oscars Red Carpet Has Retailers Thinking Pink

The dreamy tones of millennial pink have almost faded out of the fashion world’s collective consciousness, but a vivid new shade that filled the Oscars red carpet may take its place.

Angela Bassett wore pink Reem Acra, Gemma Chan wore pink Valentino Haute Couture, and Linda Cardellini and Helen Mirren both stepped out in gowns by Schiaparelli Couture, the fashion house that calls the blue-toned shade its signature color.

It’s mesmerizing to see fashion “moments” like this play out—fuchsia frills seem to descend slowly, then all at once, taking over news coverage and Twitter feeds alike. That’s just what will happen to the retail landscape, too, according to industry experts who expect bright pink shades to flood the market in the coming months.

“Brand copies of the Oscars gowns happen within days,” said Kelly Helfman, president of West Coast Women’s at Informa. Fast-fashion companies have gotten remarkably adept at creating replicas of couture looks, she pointed out. Helfman cited Zara, which can deliver runway-inspired looks within 10 days of fashion weeks, and the lawsuit Kim Kardashian filed against Missguided, a company that sometimes has duplicates or “dupes” of her outfits for sale online within hours of Kardashian debuting them.

Helfman said the model isn’t going anywhere, thanks to a voracious consumer base, but the fast-fashion monolith isn’t anything new. “I remember as a kid, seeing potential homecoming dress styles on the award shows, and ABS or Jessica McClintock would have similar styles in weeks,” Helfman said. That was 20 years ago, Helfman said, but the desire still exists.

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Todd Lee, product manager at Datacolor, also said the value market “knockoff” game isn’t a new one, but added that fashion moments like this year’s pink Oscars gowns reverberate further than many realize.

“I call it the ‘cerulean blue effect,’ as in the scene from The Devil Wears Prada,” said Lee, referring to Meryl Streep’s monologue on the impact of couture collections on mid- and bottom-level fashion retail. Lee explained that along with fast-fashion companies like Fashion Nova and Missguided, luxury and high-end brands will likely debut products in the near future that are clearly modeled after the bright pink. Mid-level brands will follow suit, offering affordable items inspired by the luxury goods that are of better quality than the lowest-priced options. Lee also pointed out that it won’t just be apparel that’s touched by the color. Accessories, shoes and bags are all perfect candidates for a statement color like “Oscars night pink.”

The timing behind the color will impact its longevity, too.

“Last year at the Oscars, everyone wore black in response to the Time’s Up movement,” Lee said. “This year, you see this bright pink, and it’s a response to a movement of feminine power. It’s women taking ownership.”

Lee also said a blue-toned pink stands in stark contrast to the “millennial” pink that dominated the media for so long. “It’s significant that the color was a blue-toned pink, and not a yellow-toned one,” Lee said. “Pink has a long and storied past, but yellow pink is softer and connotates a sense of fragility, while blue pink is bolder and has a sense of feminine strength.”

For trend forecasting experts, the sudden ubiquity of such a brilliant pink may not seem like a surprise, since it’s a perfect fit for spring and summer fashion. Still, the brands that capitalize most on the trend will be those who can strike while the iron is hot, like vertically-integrated Zara, Helfman said.

“You cannot compete with speed,” said Helfman, adding that brands that put out collections throughout the year, rather than at the beginning of each season, are at an advantage. “You need speed through design, manufacturing, shipping and delivery, and those that can produce fastest own their own factories and manufacture themselves.”

Lee agreed, adding that while the fashion moment may have passed, consumers will be seeing 2019 Oscars pink for a long time. “It may be a year before you see this in a Cato or Fashion Bug, but it’s already started,” Lee said.