Spring Fashion Colors: Why Pastels?

This spring’s Pantone Fashion Color Report is heavy on the pastels, transporting us to “a happier, sunnier place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves,” according to Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Pantone's spring fashion colors. Learn how to incorporate these cheery colors into your weaving!

Pantone’s fashion color palette for Spring 2016

These "Pure Delight" towels closely match two of Pantone's spring fashion colors!

“Pure Delight Towels” in blue and yellow colorways.

The cheery, exploratory colors certainly call spring to mind, but why are pastels associated with spring? Is it purely based on imitating the colors of nature, or has the connection been taught to us by marketers and candy companies? Probably both.

The term “pastel” did not always refer to colors. As you likely know, it did and still does also refer to raw pigments suspended in a mixture of water and a binding agent, usually resulting in a lower saturation of pigment than oil paints, for example. Today, a “pastel” color is any color with a high value (lightness) and low to medium saturation.

One theory of how pastels became associated with spring relates to Easter eggs, which were traditionally dyed to celebrate being allowed to reintroduce them into the diet after Lent. Since it’s difficult to achieve anything but a pastel shade when dyeing eggs (especially with natural pigments), those lighter, less-saturated colors could have become associated with this time of year. But that theory is far from airtight, and there are many alternative origin stories out there.

Whatever the reason, pastels always make something of a reappearance in spring fashion colors, but some decades are more pastel-heavy than others. Think back to the 1950s, when the height of tasteful housekeeping was a pastel pink refrigerator. Or to the 1980s, when Miami Vice colors were everywhere, including my aunt’s bathroom and my dad’s cycling tights.

According to the typical rule of thumb that fashions cycle back every 30 years or so, it makes sense that pastels are back in a big way this decade. If you’re looking for a project that utilizes Pantone’s top spring fashion colors this season, here are a few kits with everything you need to get started!

Weaving Projects in Spring Fashion Colors

These towels are woven in naturally-dyed "tintes naturales," which just happen to be some of this season's top spring fashion colors.

“Tintes Naturales Towels,” naturally dyed in fresh springy pastels

The “Pure Delight Towels” are certainly fresh and fun for spring, plus the yellow colorway is a close match to the Buttercup color chosen by Pantone, and the blue colorway is fairly close to their Snorkel Blue. The “Sunny South Scarf” features stripes of Rose Quartz and Limpet Shell, with a darker color that calls to mind both Pantone’s Peach Echo and Fiesta. Finally, our “Tintes Naturales Towels” are a rainbow of spring fashion colors, hand-dyed with natural pigments in pastels of all shades, including a number that are close to Pantone’s pallete.

Seize the inspiration this season and get some pastels on your loom!


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