Why Fashion Can't Get Enough Of Orange

The fact that 210 new shades have been added to Pantone’s colour charts this week has been greeted with interest by the fashion world – all the more colours to play with. The section of particular interest? The oranges. Once avoided for fear of its clashability and the potential of being mistaken for a member of the Holland football team, orange has quietly become a favourite shade over recent seasons. Frank Ocean calling his 2012 album Channel Orange was one sign, as was an orange-themed fashion shoot in men’s biannual Fantastic Man. Th at this has been picked up by Pantone, which analyses colour trends, shows that orange has gone from a fad to a permanent fixture in fashion.

The Pantone chart includes Aura Orange, Mango Mojito and Dragon Fire, which puts the Farrow & Ball colour names in the shade. For fashion purposes, the oranges that appeal are closer to the shades of soup than, say, hi-vis worn on the building site. See cumin oranges at Céline and Bottega Veneta and pumpkins courtesy of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. It is on the high street too – at Cos, Topshop and Whistles – suggesting that people are wearing the colour in real life. A search on Asos for orange brings up nearly 1,200 items.

A model on the Louis Vuitton AW15 catwalk. A model on the Louis Vuitton AW15 catwalk. Photograph: SIPA/REX Shutterstock/SIPA/REX Shutterstock

Why are we being drawn to this colour, which was once avoided for safer shades such as black? Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, told WWD her theory. “There is a certain exoticness [with orange] and many other cultures are now embracing the shades of orange,” she said. “We are so much more attuned to other cultures that embrace colour.”

If globalisation has apparently made more of us like orange, fashion’s current love affair with the 70s – on the moodboard at brands including Louis Vuitton and Gucci – also has something to do with it, surely. These warm, comforting hues were the ones used on interiors in a decade where several shades of one colour were standard over patterns on everything from carpets to walls and bedspreads, sometimes in the same room. But we are now seeing orange in a new light, and it feels fresh. The future is bright in fashion – it is orange.

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