While digitisation is becoming heavily adopted by brands and designers as a new way of connecting with consumers, its influence is also having an impact on other areas of the industry, pushing creative companies and agencies to adapt to the ever evolving online atmosphere.
Long-time collaborators WGSN and Coloro are two companies also latching onto the digital world, evident in the release of their new colour trend report, ‘A Window to the Future of Colour’. Launched through an interactive, digital experience, the five key colours for the SS24 report consist of hues that draw on current consumer shifts and the colliding of the natural and online world. Visitors to the report’s dedicated online site can swipe through to see each individual colour in its entirety, with clickable features and moveable imagery that allows them to interact with the colour at hand.
In a conversation with FashionUnited, Clare Coulson, a WGSN colour strategist, said the push for this digital element was fundamental in keeping up with the dramatic shift to digitalisation. “There is so much coming through on digital and the metaverse, it is really important for WGSN and Coloro to adapt to that,” she said. “Even in terms of our key colours, it was important that we analyse them in a digital way to really showcase what we are putting forward and what is happening in the industry.”
The sister companies, which release annual Colour of the Year and seasonal trend reports, combine their individual expertise for each collaboration, putting to use Coloro’s extensive colour library and the knowledge of WGSN experts to identify trends for coming seasons.
‘A Window to the Future of Colour’ marks the duo’s first digitally-centred report, with each colour reflecting the current shifts in both society and technology that has resulted in the selection of shades that traverse between digital and physical realms.
Speaking on the shades, Coulson said: “The colours really reflect this period of realignment. We have got so much going on with economic, political and environmental issues, it’s really important to address these. By 2024, we think consumers will be seeking ways to balance this uneasiness with this sense of optimism, and this is reflected in the shades we have selected. They have all got different drivers but they are all linked to digital realities and, in contrast, we are also pulling from the natural environment and change in lifestyles.”
Radiant Red to Fondant Pink
As Coulson mentioned, each of the five colours, while drastically different from each other, tie in neatly with both the physical and digital surroundings. ‘Radiant Red’, for example, connects closely to the care economy, a key society shift identified by WGSN. ‘Elemental Blue’, on the other hand, nods to the consumer desire for a slowed-down lifestyle that collides with their increased sensory awareness, forming a restrained, industrial appearance that becomes experiential within a metaverse environment. Similarly, ‘Fondant Pink’, a pigmented pastel, aims to mirror consumers’ increasing interest in delight, which Coloro said is an antidote to anxiety and ultimately enhances well-being.
The report’s most digitally-forward colour, ‘Cyber Lime’, is a neon green that signifies the connection between nature and technology. The bio-based colour, which in the online experience is seen through organic forms, hopes to energise consumers. The final colour, ‘Nutshell’, a spicy brown, ties in with the growing resale and thrift culture, linking with the need to prioritise sustainability over newness and aligning with consumer shifts towards nostalgic trends.
It is this sustainable quality that Coulson said was being tracked by WGSN on a weekly basis, garnering significant interest from clients as an element that is continuously changing. Next to what dyes and techniques are being used by brands, Coulson noted: “It can also be about having a more sustainable mindset, so not just having colours you will only use for one season but making sure your colours have transeasonality, so people get more wear out of the items. It's a mindset shift we are seeing with consumers and with brands, it's about looking at what is happening with manufacturing and the supply chain.”
This crossover between digital and physical trends was something that played a big role in the development of the report, Coulson said, emphasising that both of these worlds need to be seen as equals. “We need to consider how digital and physical colour trends will align together, you can’t speak about one solely on its own,” she added. “It is how digital is going to enhance the real world and vice versa. Will we see more of the real world come into the digital? It is definitely going to be one to watch in terms of colour analysis.”
Over the past year, the digitisation of fashion has grown rapidly, with many brands adopting virtual marketing strategies and experimenting with the potential of metaverse products, gaming collaborations and online e-commerce developments. Not only has fashion adapted to these rapid shifts, but colour analysis experts have also had to consider the new dynamics of digitisation and what it means for the future of colour.
“It’s a really interesting period of time,” Coulson said. “The digitisation of fashion is definitely going to change the industry, but it is also allowing for a lot more experimentation and creativity. For colour, there is so much opportunity to delight the senses, create other-wordly effects or use very transformative effects with colour that really catch the eye. It's a really exciting time to see how this space evolves and how colour analysis will react to it.”