The Currency of Color ~ An interview with Carol Meek of Color Portfolio / by Emily Miller Palmquist

With the release of her A/W Color Portfolios, I thought this was an ideal time to gain some insights from one of North America's foremost experts in Color, Carol Meek. She is the Trend Forecaster and Director behind Color Portfolio.

Is there any color or color family that you consider dominant over the last few seasons?

The Blue and the Green color family has two dominating color families for the past few seasons. We did see the Blues and the Greens branching off into Blue Greens of Aqua, Teal, and Jade. Fresh shades of Green also emerged.  We are now seeing the Red color family coming on strong, highlighting Red, Orange cast Reds, Pink tones, and Coral.

What is your best advice for a designer to evolve color from one season to the next in their range?

If a color family is working for your brand, ask yourself how is that shade of color evolving? Is color featuring more yellow tones, more red tones, more blue tones, etc. and adjust that color family accordingly to stay fresh and new. Be sure the color change is significant because it can look like a dye problem if it is too close to the old color, especially if you know the old color is still left over on the sales floor. You also want to look at the flow of color. How do you move from darks into pastels, or summer shades into autumn shades? In some cases you bridge a few of those colors into your next season’s color for a more cohesive look, other times you may want to use more neutral shades to cleanse the palette or sales floor. It depends on the brand, the item, the store, and your customer. 

Some brands have had had great success with branding by color, for instance Christian Louboutin's red. What are your thoughts on using color to enhance branding?

It’s a great idea if you can create desire with the item as well. Christian Louboutin’s Red soled shoes created a desire in women to show off that they were wearing expensive, designer shoes, and women felt great wearing them. Color enhanced the brand, the item, and the experience of the consumer who bought the product. But in most cases branding by color doesn’t always work, its more about the name brand itself that sells the item to the consumer, for example Nike and Under Armour comes out with any color and it sells, the items sell because of the brand not necessarily for the color. Unfortunately, color is a double-edged sword, pick a great color and the item sells, pick a bad color and the item doesn’t sell. Eventually, people become tired of a color and look for something new, and that is what keeps all of us in business and on our toes. Thus, the evolution and the revolving door of color.

With the release of your Autumn/Winter 18/19 portfolios, can you give us one of your most surprising insights from the research of creating these? 

Most important this season is the promotion of season-less color. You will continue to see the familiar Autumn colors and varsity inspired palettes within the portfolios. But newness is coming from the lighter shades and the brighter shades usually found in Spring and Summer seasons. We are now seeing Autumn/Winter colors emerging in Spring/Summer and Spring/Summer colors appearing in Autumn/Winter, creating a season-less approach to color. Even the Neutral colors are not changing as dramatically as we have seen over the years.

Color portfolio's AW 18/19 trend books specializing in Color are available now. Please follow the link below to view the collection, only available in Canada from EMP Creative