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The Evolution of Color in Fashion

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While in today's fashion we see plenty of color trending all year long, that was not always so in fashion history. In fact, for a very long time, colorful fashion choices were strictly reserved for specific members and social classes of society. This was due to a couple of factors, but both being details that are no loner present in the modern fashion world. Instead, color is celebrated in every corner of fashion as we have moved into the most self-expression era of the industry. Today we're sharing the evolution of color in fashion.

One of the first known reasons for clothing remaining subdued and people shying away from anything colorful was simply because of practicality.

Before the 1920's colorful clothes got dirtier quicker than plain and neutral clothing. Because of this, those who didn’t have to worry about getting dirty could dress as vibrantly as they pleased-and these happened to be individuals who were wealthy and often either royals or societal elites.

It was this particular mindset that propelled the notion that color in fashion was a representation of those who were genuinely and inherently affluent. In fact, if colorful clothing was worn by people who were not noble, they would be labeled as immoral, gaudy and improperly seeking attention.

Who was an influential member of the fashion industry during the color burst of the 1920's?

The Evolution of Color in Fashion

Margaret Hayden Rorke was the nation's first professional color forecaster. She was the head of the Textile Color Card Association for almost four decades. This association was established and put into authority by the textile mills in order to design an all-American palette that would be conceived and produced at home, so that other harder-to-access and imported dyes would be in less of a demand in America.

The association generated a Standard American color card, good for two to three years, and semiannual forecasts for ready-to-wear, hoisery, millinery and leather. Big names in fashion at the time such as Gage Bros. & Co., the country’s largest hat-maker, Sears and Roebuck & Co. relied heavily on the association, as they knew women paid close attention to it's rhetoric.

Shoppers were so obsessed with color at this point in history, that they would often be seen stomping out of stores if details such as ribbons, feathers or lace didn’t match perfectly to one of their accessories or garments. It wasn't just shoppers either; even wholesale buyers would throw a fit if one of their bulk orders was sent in a slightly different shade of pink than they had requested.

As the post-war economic boom offered Americans a place in consumer society, color was known to truly make or break a retailer in the twenties.

How long was it before not only striking colors, but also prints, became more popular in the fashion culture?

It was the 1930's that gave way to mass fashion embracing a more colorful industry. This was because of the rise of the middle-class that required more options for sportswear aka leisure wear. However, as quickly as color became accessible in fashion, it became practically unattainable. This was because WWII put a halt on most consumer clothing production in the U.S., which meant people had to begin rationing their clothes.

When did the demand for colors come back into full swing?

It was the decades during post-war prosperity that people could start affording clothing and fabrics again. And because of the increase in demand, scientists started to experiment and develop new synthetic fabrics. This was especially important, because prior to this pot-war time, there were not many fabrics strong quality enough to keep the dye on clothing vibrant after washes and wear. These new synthetic fabrics finally allowed people to wear the colors they love, without fear of them fading.

Today brands like artTECA have made a mark on the fashion industry in celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of colorful and printed accessories and garments. Color in fashion offers the opportunity to be bold and stand out from the crowd...one outfit at a time.

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