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capturing the collective eye


We all know that there is an ebb and flow to colors--a cyclical pattern of intermittent popularity. Mauve is "in" , mauve is "out". What brings a color into public awareness and makes it popular?

Designers and forecasters are the visionaries; they are super-tuned to the current and future events that shape the public taste, however, there are many reasons why a specific color or color family captures the collective consumer eye.

Among the most influential issues, role models or creators that are currently influencing consumer color trends are:

TV: From Regis Philbin to Katie Couric, millions of watchful eyes observe what the stars are wearing and emulate their favorite styles and colors. MTV continues to be a strong trend setter for the younger generation.

Films: When Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy was in production, his heroe's ubiquitous yellow raincoat was talked about and photographed for a year before the film ever appeared and yellow became hot. A hit film enjoys a longer shelf life because of home videos, prolonging the life cycle of the featured color in the marketplace. Yellow continues to be a presence, especially in interior design and many other colors are underscored with a warm yellow undertone.

Music: The music world has always influenced styling trends. Country and Western music has crossed the line into mainstream and "scoot your booty " western line dancing is the rage."Dude Style" has spread from Houston, Texas to West Houston Street in SoHo. As a result, denim is the # 1 fashion fabric in the U.S. and blue is still America's favorite color.

Magazines: Fashion magazines have traditionally been the arbiters of style and color. Today mega-models inspire trends that are interpreted internationally and home decorating magazines have become the consumers' "wish books" for colorful and liveable environments. Ecclectic remains a key word for the 90s to 2002, often inspired by a rich variety of cultures.

Museum collections: Media focus often brings attention to specific collections or artists. As the collection of Egypt's Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III tours internationally with displays of brilliant glass, glazed ceramics, temple sculptures, gilded jewelry and opulent mummy cases, many consumer products will be rendered in gilt by association!

Social issues: One of the most significant public concerns is the environment. How can that impact color choices? When we are bombarded with information and genuinely concerned about a universal problem, the colors associated with that problem are subliminally with us. When we want to preserve the earth, we become more open to the use of earthtones and consciously ( or unconsciously) seek them out. Environmentally correct buzzwords relating to color are: natural, vegetable-dyed, tea-stained, sunbleached or unbleached.

Mass Market Merchandising: Huge chains like The Limited, The Gap, Target and Pier I display the newest colors in a very appealing, well-organized manner, simplifying color coordination for the consumer and, most importantly during a time when money is tight, at an affordable price.

Occasionally, colors become popular because of unforeseen events. During the Gulf War in 1991, the yellow ribbon became the symbol of hope and optimism. This coincided with the Dick Tracy film and yellow exploded in the marketplace.

The roving consumer eye is notorious for seeking novelty. A "new" color or colors used in unique, fresh combinations will not only get the consumer to pay attention but to pay the price as well.


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