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The Importance Of Colors In Fashion Designing

Color is so important in the fashion industry. It is often the first thing consumers notice about a garment and can greatly influence their perception of that item.

Color can communicate a specific message and even evoke subconscious feelings. So much of a fashion collection is about telling a story and speaking to a certain audience and color can make or break that messaging.

So, needless to say, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to working with colors. Let’s go to school on everything you need to know about the importance of colors in fashion designing.

Two people looking at fabric color cards and pointing at red swatch


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Considered Color Combinations

Peanut butter and jelly. Mac and cheese… Combinations are a big deal in life, and in fashion.

When it comes to fashion design, certain color combinations can have very specific associations.

Red and Green... Does that make you think of Christmas?

Black and Orange… Halloween?

Designers must choose wisely in order to communicate the desired message about their range.

Colors For Brand Recognition

Ideally, fashion brands have a signature style. A trademark look that customers can easily associate with the brand.

Color schemes play a big role in this, increasing the brand recognition and providing consistency to the ever-evolving look of a fashion label.

For instance, the iconic red and green stripes of Gucci are unmistakable and immediately recognizable.

Customer Color Trends

Over time, you will notice trends in your sales and these can often be analysed by color.

Some brands have a target audience that gravitate towards bright colors, while others stick to neutrals. Many designers are even so familiar with their customer that they know they usually don’t like purple, but love blue, for instance.

The effect of color in fashion is vital and designers need to pay close attention, especially when it comes to how your customers will respond to the colors you select.

Two people looking at different colors of fabric swatches

How To Choose Color Palette For Fashion Collection

Choosing a color palette can be a daunting task for some.

Where designers draw color inspiration from varies. Some designers look at current or projected trends, while others may turn to the natural world around them.

As we all know, Pantone designates a Color Of The Year each December. (sidenote: what do we think of Very Peri for 2022?!). This could be a great inspiration for some designers or an indication of color trends to come for the next year.

Additionally, if your collection has a specific theme, it makes sense to keep your color scheme in line with that. If your new range is built around rustic beach vibes, you probably won’t be using hot pink, neon green and electric blue but rather subdued and earthy tones.

Likewise, it’s important to keep the overall brand aesthetic in mind when choosing a color story, to maintain consistency from one collection to the next. And always be mindful that the chosen colors are appropriate for the time of year you are designing for.

Tips for choosing a color palette:

  • Prints: Work with colors in print design for a cohesive range. Alternatively, you can adjust the print colors to make your chosen palette.

  • Stock Colors: If you are using any stock fabric or yarns in the range, refer to the available stock color cards to ensure all colors throughout the range work well together.

  • Automation: Online color palette generators can be great for inspiration for different color combinations. Our favorites are Adobe Color, Canva and Khroma.

Crinkled fabric swatches in different colors labelled with color names

Communicating Colors To Suppliers

As we’ve harped on about before, being as clear as possible with your suppliers is vital to a successful production process. This applies to your tech packs as well as to your color palette.

What is the best way to communicate your colors to your suppliers? Enter, color standards.

What Are Color Standards

Color Standards are the way in which you tell your suppliers the exact shade, hue and tone of color you want for your fabric, yarn or trim. There are a few ways to go about this.

  1. Pantones: You can give your supplier a Pantone number to refer to. We suggest using Pantone TCX for the most accurate outcome as these are produced on Cotton and will give you the best reference for textiles.

  2. Color swatches: You can send your supplier a small swatch of fabric in a color you like as the standard. Ensure it is large enough for them to review (at least 1”x1”, or larger if possible).

**Pro tip: keep a “swipe file” of colors that you like throughout the year. This can be from fabric swatches your suppliers send or from color books, garments (you can always cut a pocket if needed!), or anywhere you find inspiration. Then you can look through these when you are building your color palette.


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What Is A Lab Dip In The Garment Industry

The purpose of a Lab Dip, often abbreviated to LD in the industry, is to ensure your dyed fabrics and trims match your color standard.

This is extremely important when using the same color standard across multiple fabrics or suppliers because different fibers take dyes differently and each supplier will have their own interpretation of the color standard.

For instance, if you have a Petrol Blue in Cotton Poplin with Factory A and also in a Viscose with Factory B, you want these fabrics to match as closely as possible.

This is where Lab Dips come in. Lab Dips are small swatches of dyed fabric based on the provided color standards.

How Do You Comment On Lab Dips

Typically, the supplier will submit 2-3 options of lab dips on a Lab Dip Submission form with swatches labelled Option A, B, C or some variation. You review these Lab Dips in comparison to your color standard to comment on.

You can send your Lab Dip comments via email or attached to your tech pack.

State which Lab Dip option you want to make comments on and explain your comments or state your approval.

For example:

  • Dark Navy Option A- please make 20% dark and re-submit lab dips

  • Dusty Rose Option B- Approved

When requested, the supplier will submit another round of LDs until the color is approved.

Yarn color book with tassels of all different colors

Tips For A Successful Lab Dip Approval Process

  1. Keep a reference of your color standard on hand. Compare submitted lab dips to the color standard and other tones in your color palette.

  2. When sending your color standards, be sure to clearly label the names of each color so that both you and your supplier know what color you are referring to.

  3. Always be sure to request lab dips on your bulk fabrics as you need to be checking what the final outcome will be.

  4. Review LDs in various light settings -- daylight, fluorescent lights and against different skin tones.

  5. Ensure the same color across different fabrics match as closely as possible.

  6. Always review and approve LDs before proceeding to bulk.

  7. Keep approved LD for reference to compare your bulk fabric swatch to. Dye lots can vary up to 30%, but aim for a close match.

  8. When starting out with a factory, LD black and white too as these can vary more than you might realize. Sometimes it helps to say jet black & optic white to get the desired outcome.

With TPW, spend less time in Excel and more time perfecting the color palette of your range.


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