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Color Means Money for Pantone

Pantone Cafe Monaco

Models twirled around Manhattan’s Elizabeth Street Garden earlier this summer for Stella McCartney’s Resort 2016 presentation, swathed in flowy frocks in sorbet hues of apricot, lemon, orange and cream. Did the British designer pick such a palette because it called to mind a cooling treat on a hot day? Perhaps. Or maybe she thumbed through Pantone’s Spring/Summer 2016 color chart, which predicted fresh, juicy hues would saturate the market that season.

The Carlstadt, New Jersey-based company, which was acquired by industrial and healthcare conglomerate Danaher Corp. in 2012, has become such an authority on color trends that it grew more in 2014 than it has in any of its 53 years in operation, spokeswoman Molly Walsh recently told Bloomberg.

The Pantone system of color-coding 2,310 different hues in its “Fashion, Home + Interiors” guides (210 new ones were added last week) and 1,755 in its “Plus Series” is used by textile mills, printers, designers, students and more all over the world. So an apparel company in New York can ensure that its T-shirts being made in China and sweaters in Bangladesh that feature Pantone 15-1242 (or Muskmelon) are the same shade of peach-orange, no matter the manufacturer.

But how does the company, which does not disclose its profits, continue to make money once it’s developed and sold its shades and their corresponding formulas? By encouraging customers to buy a new collection of colors every year, as well as licensing deals, like the Pantone pop-up cafe that opened earlier this month in Monaco. “Mango”-colored mango sorbet, anyone?