Pantone's 2014 Color: Radiant Orchid This pinky purple offers a contrast with last year's emerald written by Christina Binkley for WSJ.com
Move over, emerald! Christina Binkley joins Lunch Break to exclusively unveil Pantone's new pick for the color of 2014.
Move over, emerald. The color watchers at Pantone say the "It" color of 2014 is a pinky purple known as "radiant orchid."
Expect to see the peppy shade on everything from cardigans to coffee makers next year. Vibrant and inviting, it has enough warm tones to look good on most skin types, which makes it a natural for nail polish and lipstick. Pantone executives say that because it is nuanced and bold, the color suggests creativity and ingenuity, which may appeal to fashion-minded, tech-savvy customers in their 20s and 30s. The hue also offers a sharp contrast with emerald, Pantone's color of 2013.
At a time when anything goes in fashion, Pantone's heavily marketed "Color of the Year" announcement can raise eyebrows. These days, there is no 'It' hem length or cut or wash of jeans. So is there still any such thing as the color?
"Absolutely, there's an "It" color for spring," says Ken Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus, firmly. "It's pink."
Radiant Orchid Is the Color of the Year
The color watchers at Pantone say the "It" color of 2014 is a pinky purple known as "radiant orchid."Converse
Mr. Downing hasn't been working with Pantone on its color-of-the-year selection. But violet and purple clothes and accessories have been moving briskly at Neiman Marcus, making these shades the stores' top sellers, Mr. Downing says. As resort and spring fashion collections trickle in, hues are getting pinker. "Women who follow fashion want to be wearing the color of the moment," he says. "Truly, pink is the color."
Spring 2014 fashion collections featured a preponderance of pinks and purples on the runways at Prada, Chanel and Dior, all labels that tend to influence other fashion designers. Pantone—which is in the business of selling color swatches and advice to industries from autos to home decor—closely watches these runways.
Pantone, owned by Washington, D.C.-based Danaher Corp., each year polls graphic, industrial, fashion and other designers around the world, as well as manufacturers and retailers, asking what colors they plan to use in coming seasons. A color committee made up of Pantone executives and clients makes a pick based on the surveys, sales of color swatches and its experts' opinions.
By the time Pantone unveils its color of the year, designs for the year ahead are already in the works. But given the company's insider access—which amounts to a cheat sheet from style leaders—its choice tends to show insight. Emerald really did turn out to be a big color last year, and so did the red-orange "tangerine tango" the year before.
Chevrolet tapped the purply-red trend with 'deep magenta metallic,' a limited-edition color for its 2014 Sonic. Chevrolet
This year, Pantone felt the best match for the warm hue it was seeing was "radiant orchid," a color appearing in its color guide between "iris orchid" and "spring crocus." Deeper shades of purple have been on the upswing as well; Sherwin-Williams recently announced its 2014 Color of the Year is a murky violet called "exclusive plum."
Housewares, cosmetics and packaging are already showing up in radiant orchid. Keurig, the Burlington, Vt.-based coffee-machine maker, is using the color on its $99 "mini plus" single-serving machine—its smallest—which is coming out in early February.
Before committing to the colorful machines, Keurig tried out prototypes on consumers and buyers from major retailers. Testers asked people how they felt about the color on a beverage-brewing machine—and if they could live with it for three years or more, a viable time frame for kitchen appliances, says David Sachs, Keurig's senior vice president of hot beverage systems.
The color leans feminine, and it may find more fans with two X chromosomes. Urban Outfitters used the color in a bedspread, and Anna Weatherley dinnerware comes in the shade as well. It's a daring color for men. Bold men might try it in a shirt—solid or print—while more timid types might just use it as an accent color in neckties and socks.
Still, Keurig expects the color to sell well among men and women in their 20s and 30s, because they tend to be open-minded about style issues, from pedicures to pink percolators. It will also appeal to people interested in fashion and interior decoration, says Mr. Sachs. These happen to be the consumers to whom Keurig markets. "We have very high hopes for radiant orchid based on what consumers have told us," he notes.
French cosmetics giant Sephora considered using radiant orchid as a hair color, but backed off, deciding instead to focus on lips, cheeks, nails and eyes. Margarita Arriagata, Sephora's chief merchant, says the color speaks to a romantic trend that's currently on the upswing. "It's a perfect nail color," she notes. "And we tried the lipstick on every single skin tone. It's killer."
Come next June and July, Old Navy will be shipping radiant orchid tops and dresses into its stores. The color hit a fashion sweet spot, appearing in high-fashion collections while not being so challenging that it would appeal only to fashionistas. "With our customers, we're always looking for broadly appealing trends," says Jill Stanton, Old Navy's executive vice president of product and design.
Pantone often chooses stop-you-in-your-tracks colors with hues of red or blue. Hot colors are eye-catching, which is what marketers are looking for; one might walk past a beige bathroom rug without a thought, but a radiant orchid rug will turn your head. But Pantone varies its color choices from year to year, because it wants them to feel fresh. Radiant orchid is at the opposite side of the color wheel from last year's emerald.
"In the marketplace, this is a good thing," says Leatrice Eiseman, a color consultant to brands and to Pantone, where she heads up the annual search for the Color of the Year. Emerald and radiant orchid actually look good together, Ms. Eiseman argues, but the one is such an about-face from the other that it's likely to encourage consumers to get out and shop in order to stay up to date.
Ms. Eiseman hastens to note that odd color pairings are popular today. She declares this a new era in color, where people's clothes and even kitchen appliances are no longer matchy-matchy, and radiant orchid can share space on the counter with 2010's turquoise and other shades.
"Our purpose is not to dogmatically inflict a color on everyone," she says. "We're far beyond the '70s when the decree was made that mauve was 'it.' "
Corrections & Amplifications
The last name of David Sachs was incorrectly given as Sacha in an earlier version of this article. Also, Keurig will offer only its smallest-size coffee maker in the radiant orchid color. An earlier version of the article incorrectly said the color would be offered in two Keurig coffee makers.
Write to Christina Binkley at firstname.lastname@example.org