OK, what’s the the key colour that we’ll all be racing to add to our wardrobes, come late summer? Sorry, read that as “what’s the key colour consumers will be moaning about, come late summer?”
Yes. Colour. It’s a trend (and sales) driver. But it’s also an enduring fashion industry problem.
The industry has to back key colours and any season (or pre-season) is usually defined by a trio of them, resulting in plenty of “XXX is the new black” headlines. It makes sense as the need to protect margins means few businesses can afford to back their trend pieces with a 10-colour choice. And as far as volume basics are concerned, few can afford to bump up their core colour palette with more than two or three extra ‘fashion’ shades.
But here’s the thing. Consumers hate that. Ms X may pop into a store keen to try out the latest on-trend palette. But Ms Y and Ms Z (as well as Ms A-through-W) want to buy colours that suit them and that go with that blouse/skirt/sweater/trouusers they bought last year.
It’s a juggling act for retailers and brands. One that sometimes goes wrong. I’ll never forget the time, several decades ago, when I walked into one of the large Oxford Street stores. I think it was Richard Shops, which shows just how long ago it was. Anyway, ! saw little but a sea of grey and burgundy. That particular season was a disastrous one for retail and given the lack of colour choice (plus all the moaning I heard from friends about it), I’m not surprised.
Which brings us to pre-fall 17. Yes, it’s back, burgundy, wine, oxblood, not-quite-red, call it what you will, all ready for consumers to moan about come late summer. Or will they? Have designers got it right this time? There appears to be plenty of choice within the burgundy/wine family with designers offering up every nuance from the most intense shades to almost-purples.
Importantly, they’re also thinking outside the wine box. So along with the expected head-to-toe options, we’re getting this particular shade of red mixed in with other on-trend colours. Perhaps the most surprising is khaki. That’s another key pre-season colour direction and used together they make an interesting partnership.
Want to make it a little less offbeat? Burgundy also meets up with a selection of blues, almost-tans, slightly jarring purples, and the full spectrum of the season’s popular pinks from pale sot power shades.
For those not keen to dive head first into an ocean of statement colour, there are ombré effects that also draw in any of the above shades. Or multicolour geometrics, tribal or floral prints with burgundy as, perhaps not just one of the crowd but as the first among equals.
Will it be enough to stop those familiar “why can’t they make it in more colours?” moans. Let’s hope so.