The Weekly Journal | Fashion

By Yenia Hernandez Fonseca- June 23, 2022

FASHION BY COLOUR

The Most Iconic Colours in Fashion

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

When we think of colour in style, we immediately picture two opposite scenarios: either moody, dark colour clothes for introverts, or happy, bright hues for those with an extrovert personality. We immediately make this categorization because our minds are programmed to make connections between colour and emotion. 

But the role of colour in fashion is way more important, especially when it comes to branding. Big brands know that the right colour can almost override any association we, as customers, have made with their particular image. Think of the logo, typography, or even the model-slash-celebrity wearing said label; everything is carefully curated to communicate a specific message to the public.

While it’s true that certain colour palettes dominate the catwalk each season, some of the biggest fashion houses rely on emblematic tones to set themselves apart from others in the saturated fashion market. 

This phenomenon isn’t new. Brands have appropriated a single shade as their own throughout history, but in recent years, there has been a rising popularity in developing signature shades that can be easily spotted from a distance and distinctive enough to compete in the visually-driven digital era.

Let’s take a look at the most iconic colours among fashion labels, both past and present. 

Orange: Hermès

You might have heard about the crazy waiting list that can stretch up to six years to purchase an Hermès handbag. No matter the size, the French heritage brand implements strict codes to decide who is and who isn’t able to acquire one of their iconic Birkin or Kelly models. 

What Hermès sells is exclusivity. It’s common to hear of people buying any of the house’s smaller products (ie. houseware, small leather goods, scarves) just for the sake of getting their hands to their iconic orange boxes. 

Orange became the signature colour of Hermès as early as 1942, due to shortages of the traditional, cream-coloured cardboard boxes that defined the brand prior to World War II. Instead, their supplier resorted to the radiant orange boxes that no one wanted. Today, Hermès orange is instantly recognized as a symbol of ultra-high luxury worldwide.

Pink: Valentino

From the runway walls to the eye shadow that the models wore, Valentino’s Fall 2022 show was completely bathed in pink. This wasn’t any common shade of hot pink, though. The brand’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, hosted a hot-pink event in none other than the very shade he developed with his design team and Pantone’s colour specialists. 

The colour, dubbed “Valentino Pink PP,” made bold splashes across the house’s website and social media platforms. The label’s new bet on bright pink shows an important departure from the old Valentino-Red it was known for, ringing the beginning of a fresh, modern era. 

The pink-out of the season was a radical gesture and an effective one indeed. The bright young colour is now synonymous with the iconic Italian brand.

Green: Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta is another example of reinvention in fashion. The industry witnessed the growth of a fairly new designer. The house’s then creative director, Daniel Lee, forged the modern potential of the Italian heritage brand and presented the world with a new colour to lust after: BV Green. From shoes and bags to jewelry, the cult appeal of Bottega Green turned a simple shade of green into one of the most popular colours of 2021. Bottega’s iconic green iInfiltrated all corners of the high-street. Other industries like interior design also felt the BV green effect. As they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Earlier this year, Bottega Veneta launched a new augmented reality app with a green square in place as the logo. Despite its recent popularity, Bottega’s relationship with green dates many years back. The colour has been used by the house for decades as noted in archival polaroids showing green storefronts in the 1990s and seen in the green branded dust bags in a 1985 Andy Warhol film.

Red: Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin’s iconic red on the bottom of their footwear has literally become synonymous with the brand's entire identity which has become the biggest draw for plenty of consumers. There’s the long-lasting trajectory of the blood-red hue in the collective subconscious spanning red carpet appearances and pop culture references. 

Only two years in business and Louboutin was already in search of a new design inspired by Andy Warhol's "Flowers." But thanks to his assistant who was sitting nearby painting her nails, Louboutin stumbled upon the idea of painting his soles red and created the brand’s most enduring identity. 

Beyond international recognition and consumer perception, red soles have also given Louboutin countless global trademark fights, some of which are still ongoing. 

Blue: Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany Blue is known as the name for the light, robin egg blue associated with New York jeweler, Tiffany & Co. The colour appeared on the cover of the jeweler’s first sales catalog in 1845 but it wasn’t until 1998 that Tiffany Blue became a registered colour trademark. In 2001 it was standardized by Pantone’s Matching System (#1837 Blue, named after the year the brand was founded ) as a custom colour exclusively for the brand’s use.

It is believed that Charles Lewis Tiffany picked this exact shade of blue, also known as Forget-Me-Not Blue, due to the popularity of turquoise in Victorian jewelry. Turquoise was a favorite among Victorian brides who often gave their attendants a dove-shaped brooch of turquoise as a wedding day memento. 

The Tiffany Blue box packaging has become as famous as the jewelry itself. It’s a symbol of aspiration and timeless sophistication for many jewelry lovers worldwide.