Experts don’t just invent color trends out of the ether. Instead, shades are chosen well in advance, winnowed from wider palettes of their own. To earn a spot, each color duked it out with similar tones, some darker, warmer or dirtier. These are the finalists, distilled from extensive research into overarching consumer trends and moods, years in advance. The Pantone Spring / Summer 2018 palette includes the COTY—Ultra Violet—plus 11 other fresh colors and 4 classic neutrals. As you can imagine for a spring palette inspired by the fashion runway, it’s bright, poppy, fun and bold, just what we need to wake up after a long, sleepy winter.
After all, we use color to attract the fickle and fleeting attention of consumers. It’s hard work getting someone to part with their money. Whether it’s paint for the kitchen walls, fabric for throw pillows or the colorways of the latest trainers, color is one of the biggest tools to affect mood and emotion. Experts believe that colors are some of our earliest human hive-mind memories and our reactions to them are emotional, subliminal, visceral and sometimes pre-programmed, either from early human history (red is dangerous because of blood and fire) or our childhood experiences (light blue is soothing because of a beloved stuffed bunny).
This year, we’ve already swooned over Ultra Violet, so we’re not showcasing it here. Left to discover are brighter hues like Arcadia, a solid vintage-y feeling green-blue teal, Cherry Tomato, a super hot, flame red, Lime Punch, a screaming fluorescent chartreuse and pinky-purple Spring Crocus. More traditional spring pastels follow, like Almost Mauve, a practically impossible-to-see-on-the-screen pink, Meadowlark, a flowery yellow, Little Boy Blue, sky blue with a hint of periwinkle, Blooming Dahlia, a pale peach and Pink Lavender, which explains itself. And finally, classic spring neutrals close out the palette like white (Coconut Milk), navy (Sailor Blue), beige (Warm Sand) and gray (Harbor Mist). Really, with such a wide variety, it’s hard to not find one shade that personally resonates.
Whether or not you follow color trends depends on your company, brand or campaign, but it’s always good to have an idea of what’s popular. And while Pantone only started COTY 20 years ago, our obsession with fashionable or new colors isn’t new at all: Once synthetic dyes were on the scene, new colours were suddenly cheaper and more widely available, causing some Paris fabric houses to start launching color cards as early as 1880.
Take a look at the images in our gallery for lifestyle, nature and still-life images featuring contemporary colors. Looking for RGB and Hex values? Check out this handy resource. Oh and there’s yet another palette to check out, London’s Spring 2018 Top 12, which follows this one, but replaces 5 shades with versions more representative of London Fashion Week.