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Pantone Reveals a 2015-16 Season Ruled by Blue-Green, Shine and Offbeat Combos

In the last four years, more companies have begun to turn to Pantone, the leading provider of color systems, for color validation as consumers become increasingly aware of color and grow hungry for newness.

Vice president of Pantone Color Institute Laurie Pressman revealed a season of new color stories and updates for the next Fall/Winter season at the MAGIC seminar “2015-2016 Your World’s New Color Palette” in Las Vegas last week—many of which are led by material trends like the use of acrylic in accessories, carpet textures in couture and the flounce of floral motifs and furs decorating the women’s apparel market.

And, as in footwear, denim and swim, the influence of activewear will be palpable even in color trends. Pressman said fashion and color “needs to be flexible” and enhance active lifestyles, not hinder it. As a result, designers are tossing color rules to the wind. Fall/Winter 2015-2016 will be a season of bold orange and blue, color mash-ups intended to “be a little off,” and an invitation to wear white long after Labor Day.

Here are nine color stories the color experts are preparing to renew men’s and women’s apparel and accessories during the Fall/Winter 2015-2016 season.

Subliminal: Consider this blend of dark hues the season’s most subtle story, as it relies on dark colors not easily identifiable from one another. As Pressman explained, “Darks create a quiet murmur.” Shades of dark green and blue disappear into one and other, distinguishable only by the juxtaposition of smooth and shiny finishes. Textures with rough coatings add drama.

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Touched: Ethereal and shadowy, this color story plays with tonal hues of soft grey and creamy whites. Pale shades are highlighted by luxurious shine. Designs are embossed, and patterns are punched out. Graphite grounds the light and airy story.

Intermingle: Simplified, spontaneous colors collide to make unique combinations. Powdered materials are blended with textures culled from nature. Navy, copper and browns are reminiscent of natural materials eroded by the elements. Touches of fur soften the wilderness look, even in men’s, highlighting the demand for asexual styling. Once again blue-green is important, however, in this grouping it is strongest in men’s fashion.

Impression: Atmosphere colors—primarily mystic shades of blue-green—create a fairytale-like story. Materials are luxurious feeling; patterns are painterly in appearance. Creamy ochre brightens the look.

Curiosity: Contemporary colors that jump up and down the color scale are featured in this story, adding up to a surge of offbeat combinations of color and imaginative, hyper-real materials. Green and coral are popped against darker versions in the same color family and are balanced with neutrals like cream. Expect to see warm fur piles delivering an extreme look. Perforation adds textural interest. In accessories, pink rules. Accessories designers keep the look clean with smooth, glossy materials.

Empathy: Dark blues, tomato red, purple and green live harmoniously in this warm and optimistic theme. In women’s apparel, the blends are more natural and comforting. In men’s, designers take a more daring approach with shiny surfaces. Charcoal grey, blue and suede are important in accessories.

Connect: This color story is the basis for fun with bright splashes and color blocking that delivers a pop-meets-street art vibe. Or as Pressman described it: “Childlike, but sophisticated.” Concrete makes strong red more functional; colors are pixelated, Lego-like shades of colors are blocked on top of one another. The acceptance of yellow grows, especially in men’s outerwear. Stripes of all shapes and sizes run rampant. Bold graphics make the look less serious.

Physical: From pool blue to olive green, this theme plays with tech hues for a look Pressman called, “Wildman meets science.” Shine plays a major role in the story. Colors with a liquid-like shimmer reveal a peak into the dark side. Eye-popping color combinations that don’t look quite right are important in women’s apparel, like lavender and cool blue-green. Saline yellow and woodsy green ground the theme. Blue-infused graphite is present, too.

Iconic: Strong, rich and bold uses of cobalt blue, gold, red and soft pink are taken right from Iconoclasm work by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Abstract prints, mixed florals and geometric shapes are paired with soft textures and deep-pigmented metallic colors. Mirror-like sheen is crucial, especially in men’s accessories, be it gold oxfords or shiny bow ties.

Color On-the-Go
A color guide cheat sheet on where color stands for Autumn/Fall 2015-2016.

Brown: A mainstay in fall collections, brown will take on two distinct looks—a woodsy crafted feel—or a mid-century vibe with high gloss, lacquered finishes.

Black: Moving away from classic looks, expect to see black paired with strong colors.

White: Forget the old Labor Day rule. White is becoming less seasonal, as designers use it for contrast and on its own.

Pink: Ultra-feminine red-based pink hues are cooling down. Blue tints are growing in popularity.

Orange: The new direction for orange swings from autumnal to bright. Coral continues to rule, now tinged with more pink.

Red: Ceremonial red comes on strong, retaining depth and richness.

Purple: Red-based purples become increasingly more important in both men’s and women’s fashion.

Blue: Designers are more optimistic and less concerned about playing safe with blue. Blue will be intense and dominate across men’s and women’s collection.

Yellow: The warm hue is winterized with mustard and golden undertones.

Green: For the last two years, yellow-based greens have been a major trend, but blue-greens will begin to take over.