Pantone and How it Revolutionized the Fashion Industry

What color is your favorite T-shirt? Would it be the same if you bought it in New York, California or Texas? 

Using the Pantone Matching System (PMS), a standardized color reproduction system, the color of a garment can be matched exactly no matter where it is produced. With consistent color comes consistent and mass-marketable clothing that goes from the showroom to the store to your closet the same way every time. 

According to Fashion Insiders, “The idea behind the Pantone Matching System is to allow designers to ‘colour match’ specific colors when a design enters the production stage, regardless of the equipment used to produce the color. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers, reproduction, and printing houses for a number of years now.” 

“I never knew about this system, and even though I’m not a design student, I can totally see how helpful this must be for designers,” said sophomore Hailey Morelli. “I can’t imagine having my design produced all over the country and every version being slightly off.” 

According to Fashion Insiders, the system was developed by Lawrence Herbert in 1963 after he bought the New Jersey-based company a year earlier. Before Herbert’s influence, Pantone manufactured color cards for cosmetic companies. 

The Pantone for fashion and home colors are labeled with two digits, a dash and then four more digits. The color is also labeled with a suffix representing what material the color is printed on. For example, PMS 19-4052 TCX is “Classic Blue” and 14-1911 TPX is “Candy Pink.” The suffix “TCX” refers to textile cotton extended, while “TPX” refers to textile paper extended. 

According to O.Berk Company, “There are over 1,000 colors identified in the Pantone Color Matching System, including metallic and fluorescent colors.” 

For any designer or manufacturer using the PMS, Pantone recommends the annual purchasing of the PMS Color Guide or “swatch book” for reference, as the colors in the book yellow over time and become less accurate. 

As well as the PMS Color Guide, Pantone provides a seasonal color trend report for fashion designers to use as a guide for the most popular colors to produce their garments in. According to Fashion Insiders, “Every season, the team at the Institute evaluates the colors shown by designers in their collections at New York Fashion Week. The Pantone Fashion Color Report is then created with the gathered information.” 

According to the Pantone Fashion Color Trend Report: New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021, “This season’s report features the top 10 standout colors, as well as current takes on the five core classics we can expect to see on the New York runway as fashion designers introduce their new spring/summer collections.” 

Pantone also releases a “Pantone Color of The Year” every December in preparation for the new year. The colors “Ultimate Gray” 17-5104 and “Illuminating” 13-0647 are the Pantone colors for the current year. According to Pantone, they were chosen for their warmth and dependability. 

“I think color adds another dimension to art. A story can be told simply by creating a sketch, but when you add color, it can make more sense,” said Paige Hall, Art Club Vice President. “Even if an artist chooses to use a black and white or gray scale, the image trying to be represented will jump out at whomever is seeing it. When color is added, a mood is set, and I think that’s important, but also beautiful.” 

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