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Pantone Reveals Color’s New Direction for AW 16/17

Color is moving toward more grounded shades, earthy neutrals and blurred color lines across men’s and women’s fashion for the Autumn/Winter 2016/17 season, and, according to Pantone, Marsala is staying the course.

Laurie Pressman, Pantone Color Institute’s vice president, presented the coming fashion season’s color direction at Sourcing at MAGIC Tuesday, noting that AW 16/17 will be about strong color that speaks to our desire to stand out and be seen.

Spicy reds and burnt oranges will play alongside florals and nature’s greenery, and all will have that 70s air apparent on the year’s runways.

“The vibe is very laid back, free-spirited, it’s about a rootedness, earth tones, sandy beiges, off whites,” Pressman said.

Marsala, Pantone’s color of the year for 2015, also plays into the feeling of grounding and the need for natural in a world that has gone tech crazy.

“This is a shade that is definitely not going away, and something that we are seeing a continued presence of going into 2016,” she said.

And just like androgyny is trending in apparel, with men’s and women’s fashion melding into more unisex offerings, color is following that lead. Men are wearing shades traditionally worn by women and ladies are stepping into the cooler colors that have been male staples.

“The feminization of menswear keeps gaining momentum, spurred on by men’s interest in fashion,” Pressman explained. “The overarching message from all of the shows is that gender is a mood. You wear what you feel.”

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But, according to Pressman, “Everybody is wearing orange influenced reds.”

In terms of prints and patterns, plaids and florals will come in darker shades for looks that are more edgy and off-beat, and graphic prints are coming on strong.

Along with 70s reminiscent colors and styles, looks from the mid-50s and 60s are coming into play, and a return of 1980’s excess has also become apparent.

Fur will continue in all shapes, sizes and colors, and athleisure keeps getting stronger, bringing with it a return to Lycra, Pressman said. Pastels are still present, though they’ll be refreshed with darker color contrasts, and “Marbling is definitely having a moment.”

In breaking down the AW 16/17 season’s biggest colors, Pressman said blues will move away from classic indigo to more sophisticated and less heavy blue shades “bruised with grey or green.”

Greens will take two directions—either more yellow and olive oil led, or more mineral and Nordic in feeling.

Key berry purples will be critical to any palette, and yellow will be important for its warming presence.

Red, a color that always makes an appearance, will be an easily accepted bright for the season as it has become a “well-understood pop color.”

Oranges will be suffused with spicy hues and serve as a base and a mid-color rather than an accent.

Pink also adds a dose of energy to a palette, and brown—a key color family to be used throughout all materials in the season—will be infused with red.

Neutrals will work well within their own color family but also serve as building blocks between stronger colors, mixing well with blacks, pinks and ecrus.

Greys, according to Pressman, “Don’t claim attention, but without them the palette simply couldn’t work or function.”

For AW 16/17, whites will have invisible, light and transparent properties and come in both warm and cool tones, flowing into the ecru and blue families.

Black remains the “dominant pulsating force” as Pressman puts it, and is once again being perceived as a prestige color.

Metallics for the season will still play a key role in traditional metal shades or as a finish, but they are no longer a trend, they’ve become a basic.

Fashion is trending toward “maximalism” for the coming seasons and color won’t be blending into the background.

“In today’s world you have three seconds to grab the consumer’s attention,” Pressman said. “And color is the first thing they see.”