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Pantone's Colour of the Year wouldn't be my first choice...

Last week, colour authority Pantone announced that ‘radiant orchid’ had been identified as the colour of the year for 2014.

Now I love a good colour forecast as much as the next person, but how far we should take this affirmation remains to be seen. Emerald green was supposed to make a “big impact” for autumn 13, but not only did we see little of it across the collections (orange was actually the colour everyone wanted to talk about way back in January), but retailers were quick to dismiss the colour to Drapers, explaining that green has never been an easy sell.

In fact, it was the least popular colour trend this autumn, according to a report by men’s fashion portal Style Pilot.

What do we make of the choice for 2014, then? Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute says: “Radiant orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

I wouldn’t go that far. Holding up a sample of ‘Radiant Orchid’ against one’s face gives it a kind of sickly hue reminiscent of mild flu. We have tried and tested this in the Drapers office and it can’t just be us.

Admittedly, we’ve seen it in a few collections for spring 14 - Sister by Sibling, House of Holland and Zac Posen have all shown items featuring this colour, although it was notably absent from the menswear runways.

Most important, of course, is whether ‘radiant orchid’ will sell. According to David Shah, Pantone’s own publisher whom I interviewed earlier this year, purple has “maximum visual impact but no staying power.” So, it’s not a long term investment, for starters.

If anything, its pink that has been the colour of spring 14, with the shade really coming to life next season after this autumn’s must-have powder pink coat trend.

When it comes to fashion, the fact is that trends come and go so quickly that to discern one colour for the year ahead would be almost impossible. There will be random trends that pop up and then vanish and others that slow-burn for a few months before everyone suddenly buys a coat in it come October.

So maybe we will all be wearing purple next year. Hopefully with a red hat, that doesn’t go. I’m just not sure I’d put any money on it just yet.

Previous Colours of the Year

Emerald (2013)

Tangerine Tango (2012)

Honeysuckle (2011)

Turquoise (2010)

Mimosa (2009)

Blue Iris (2008)

Chili Pepper (2007)

Sand Dollar (2006)

Blue Turquoise (2005)

Tigerlily (2004)

Aqua Sky (2003)

True Red (2002)

Fuchsia Rose (2001)

Cerulean (2000)


Readers' comments (1)

  • Whatever colour Pantone pick, it usually the worst seller. In many cases, it the colour NOT to buy, especially after the emerald fantasy of this year. They would be better off being blindfolded and throwing a dart at a colour chart.

    Maybe that's what they actually do?

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