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Tips for Apparel Design: Selecting Colors that Sell

Looking for the best ways to help get your garments flying off the racks? One of the most important factors that “make or break” apparel success is color!

As fun as it may be, picking colors is not as simple as you might think. There are many factors that need to be considered, and a handful of strategies and best practices that the fashion pros utilize to ensure that out of the billions of shades out there, you are selecting the one that sells. You’ll be shocked to discover all of the ways that color choices impact production costs to sales, and how complicated a phrase like “a plain grey t-shirt” actually becomes when communicating with your manufacturer.

If you’re at the color-picking stage of the design and development process, you’re in the right place – read on for tips and tricks of the trade that can help you cut costs and create highly-saleable garments!

1. Colour shades & tones for your target market

Think about who is in your target market – what occasions are they buying for? What is their age range? Are there colors that may suit their needs, wants, and skin tones better than others? Consider looking at color theory and use it to figure out whether you should go for warm or cool colors (and check out this cool resource that’s all about warm versus cool skin surface tones and undertones).

2. Strive for timeless

Timeless doesn’t necessarily mean “basic” or “boring” – it simply means it will stay in style season after season, which is appealing to most buyers! After all, who wants to fork over a load of dough for something that’ll be sitting in the closet after a few short months? Consumers who are aware of the dangers of fast fashion are more conscious about investing in long-lasting pieces, and color plays a crucial role in this decision. Neutral colors for women, deep blues and forest greens for men, and pastels for children are attractive to buyers with this mindset (and remember, your consumers help define your brand, so attract the people you want to represent your company’s values!).

3. Check your inventory

Peek into your current roster – are there some items that simply aren’t flying off the shelves as quickly as you’d anticipated. There’s nothing wrong with “upcycling” your current stock, and choosing colors for your new designs that compliment the garments in your current or past collections provide an excellent opportunity to do so! Remerchandising old pieces with new ones can show buyers the potential of both pieces, and can inspire them to try it out for themselves!

4. Keep it simple

This is the whole “less is more” lesson… and possibly the most literal example of it. Simply put, the fewer colors you choose, the more money you save. We bet that’s some simple math that caught your attention! Selecting 1 or 2 colors can save you a lot of dough in time, manufacturing, and turnover once your garments hit the racks (by the way, have you checked out our Pantone blog post? It is a must-read for any fashion designer-entrepreneur, and goes hand-in-hand with the information in this article)

5. Check the fashion forecast

Looks like rain… that is, raining success for you and your company if you choose your colors according to forecasted trends! Resources like WSGN and Fashion Snoops are a designer-entrepreneurs best friend when it comes to color selection for garments because they use proven algorithms to help determine what’s going to be in season next. How do they do it? This is no crystal-ball gazing process, it’s a science: trendy colors are usually determined by what’s called a ‘move on’ from a previous season. These color schemes will show up in a few shows here and there in one season, then in the next season, they will move on to become a key color. It’s even possible that they will be used in a third season, showing up as a strong highlight color after deepening. If you can spot these colors in advance, you can use this information to predict trends for the following season. But you don’t have to do this yourself: there are plenty of online resources that can help you get on the right path!

6. Ask For Feedback

It’s always a good idea to get feedback from your target market. Set up a focus group, take large fabric pieces, and give them options. Which colors are they most drawn to? For best results, show them images of the garment with the fabric samples, so they can get a clear picture of what the finished product will be like.

There are so many details to keep in mind when it comes to color selection for your products, but over time these strategies will come second-nature to you. In the meantime, use this article as a checklist to ensure you’re hitting all of the key ingredients to cooking up a great color scheme for your line!

Do you have a go-to color that seems to find its way into your lines time and again?

Looking into creating your fashion brand but don’t know where to start? Check out our coaching packages!

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