EPISODE 62: How to dissect colour and get the mix right for your business
- Three quick areas to focus on when looking at colour
- Practical ways to apply the 3 different lenses
Hello and welcome to episode 62 of the Fashion Unearthed Podcast. In this episode, I wanted to get into more of a creative topic. I feel like I haven't delved into some of the more creative elements for a while on the podcast. And coming to the end of the year, I thought, the audience might be interested in a bit of a lighter topic. But before I get into that, I recently went to a couple of sourcing fairs that were on in Melbourne, the China Clothing Textile and Accessories Expo, and also the International Sourcing Expo, with the intention of discovering new supply chain partners. One of the most common questions I get asked is, how do I find sustainable and ethical suppliers? And I just wanna say that even though I worked in the sourcing department of a large global brand in the UK and often had sourcing as a part of my role when I worked within the design and product development, I do want to say that it can still be a challenge even for established brands, and particularly with the shakeup within the supply chains at the moment. It's forcing brands to really analyse their sourcing strategy as well.
Getting back to the expo, I essentially looked for supplies that had social audits or were open to factory visits and were using fabric certifications. Some didn't have all of these, but their product was beautiful. And as I've talked before about certifications and audits, they aren't foolproof. Even if a factory has the right logos on the stand, you should be doing your own due diligence and checking those. But I edited down a number of suppliers to 13 that mostly covered casual women's wear apparel, but also crossed into some men's children's bedding and home furnishings, as well as fabric suppliers to give people and businesses a bit of a starting point. If you're struggling with where to start in finding a supplier and it's stopping you from getting started, you can find that in the shop belindahumphrey.com. And as with all of my downloads, they're at a very accessible price. And you can also find some answers to some frequently asked questions as well on that page.
Onto today's topic, colour, how to dissect it, and use the information to inform your business decisions. Now, there's no right or wrong with colour really, and decisions can be different depending on whether you are analysing and thinking about a core colour that's going to run for six months or a small summer capsule. And obviously, it can be hard to visualise what I'm talking about because this is not a visual medium, but I'm going to put a short reel on my Instagram page at @belindahumphrey_ that'll give you a bit of a quick roundup of the things that we talked about today as well. Now, obviously colour is such an emotional shortcut, I suppose. There is so much psychology behind colour and its meaning, and that differs depending on what society you are from or where you're located in the world.
It's a huge topic to cover, but today I'm just gonna focus on three quick areas that you might wanna focus on when you are looking at colour and you want to apply that analysis to business decisions. I'm going to talk about temperature first, then saturation, and then proportions. These are the main ones that I'll apply when I'm in a situation looking at a runway show or if I'm analysing a print direction, or even if I'm working with a business, trying to understand the mix of colours and their assortment makeup. Starting with temperature, there are warm colours, which are yellows, oranges, and reds. And there are generally cool colours, greens, blues, and purples. Now the clue is in the name of the groupings, but warm colours will evoke a warm feeling or a warm environment, whereas cool colours will promote more of a cooler feeling or environment.
Now, to build on that a little bit more, most colours, regardless of whether they are cool or warm colours on the colour wheel, can have either a cool or warm undertone. Sometimes it's called a bias or a tint. Often stylists, for example, will say people shouldn't rule out particular colors based on their skin tones. They just need to find the cool or warm version or the one that's right for them. If you think about those seasonal pallets that stylists talk about, spring, summer, autumn, winter, they all usually have a green or a blue or pink in them, but they're slightly different tints, or they have different undertones.
Another example comes from the Barbie core trend that everyone's talking about. Most people will be able to picture that shade of pink that Mattel use in their branding. And I would say that's a cool pink, it has a bluish undertone to it. But essentially, when I'm researching or analysing prints, runway shows, and product ranges, the first thing I'll do is look at how many warm colours there are versus how many cool colours there are.
The next one I'll look at is saturation. Saturation is just the strength or intensity of a colour or a hue. If you can think about pastels, they are low saturation or they are desaturated colours, whereas all those super strong, really bright colours like that Barbie core pink, will be classed as highly saturated colours. Again, when I'm researching and analysing, I'll be looking at the saturation of colours.
Finally, the third thing that I will think about is the proportion of colour. Outfits rarely have just one colour, unless of course your colour blocking. This is the next step I usually use to analyse, and it's, I'm really looking at the amount of colour in an outfit within a print, within a category, or a collection.
To put it all together, if I'm looking at a runway outfit, I'll first look at whether it's cool tones or warm tones. Then I'll look at the strength of the colour that's being used. Are they mostly, desaturated colours? Are they the dopamine brights that have really been popular at the moment?
And finally, I'll look at the proportion of colour. So I'll break it down and look at what is the most predominant colour, what's the secondary, and what's the highlight. This really helps you to understand how you'll use the colour. Some brands might get away with using a trend colour in a full garment. Some brands might only wanna introduce that into a stripe or a print. So being able to identify the amount of that colour you're going to use in an outfit really goes a long way to building out your colour palette.
Finally, I just wanted to list some ways to practically apply these three different lenses, I suppose you could call them, to your business strategy. Firstly, look at whether most of the items sit in cool or warm, whether that's what your customers previously bought, what you're liking on the runway, or what's sold well in prints or versus solids. Secondly, look at your trend research and see what you're drawn to, and analyse what colour shifts might be applicable to your customer. Where there was a shift to highly saturated colour this summer, you might look at what particular colour is going to resonate most with your customer and how you'll use it. Or you might be interested in updating some of your core colours. And you'll be looking at what subtle shifts are happening within some of the more neutral colours, whether those are browns, ecru, or navy. And finally, if you are looking at the runways, or even if you're analysing your best sellers or worst sellers from last year, looking at the way that colour has been used and the proportion of colour, will really give you an insight into what has or what will really resonate with your customers.
I hope that's helped you understand how to analyse colour and some of the go-to's that I actually use. And maybe it's inspired you to revisit or analyse what's been resonating with your customer or what you've been liking on the runways.
As I mentioned earlier, you can find The Ethical and Sustainable Supplier Edit in the shop on the website, www.belindahumphrey.com. And if you're interested in a visual representation of what we've talked about today, you can find that on Instagram at @belindahumphrey_. And if you want to get in touch, you can email me at email@example.com. And as always, you'll find the show notes and any links on the website as well in the podcast section. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change.