My Collection 2017 colour inspiration comes from Bedouin tents, Bohemian decoration and the sandy colours of Arabian nights. So, why are you looking at a pair of Mandarin ducks? Bizarre picture choice or what? Bear with me and hopefully it’ll make sense!

Every year, there are some imaginative people who make predictions and decisions about the colours and patterns we will be using. These ideas will then be transformed into everything from clothing and textiles ceramics and carpets. Things we see and use everyday, without thinking how they got there. These people take inspiration from the the same things as you and me. They come from the world around us, past trends, popular street fashion, pigment innovations. This is obviously a process that doesn’t happen overnight. But it does help explain why all the designers tend to follow similar themes…pretty florals, block patterns, wild west, 70’s revival, modern punk…

Colour; from Inspiration to Market

Most of the colours you see in the shops today, whether in Dorset, Dubai or Detroit, were decided on months ago. Some decisions can have been made as long as 24+ months ago! The time lag between deciding on the colour range and buying that jumper, plate or cushion makes sense if you really think about it.

The colours are decided upon, the dyes are formulated, the textile/ceramic/paper is dyed and the raw product is produced. The manufacturing process then takes place (either here or abroad), the items are shipped and stored, and finally they arrive in the shops. When I first studied fashion design, there was no laser cutting, no photographic printing and relatively few choices of fabric availability. Clothes were made at least six months before arriving in the shops. There was no topping up or variations available until the next season.

Colour and Design forecasting

The modern supply chain timeline has really shortened. It is now far more flexible when it comes to the vagaries of consumer spending and sudden trends that unexpectedly take off. World production and air freight mean that a new trend can be on the streets in a matter of days rather than months. Welcome to the world of ‘fast fashion’. However, there are limits. If there is a sudden rush for bright pink plaid, only a certain amount can be produced. There is a small quantity in the market and an obvious long lead time to get any more.

When you multiply this process through everything that you can buy, you can see why good colour and design forecasting is about the most important component in the supply chain. Get it wrong and  it can be very costly. You might be stuck with a warehouse full of primary coloured items when the trend is for neutrals and shades of ‘greige’.

Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying that if you know where to look you can see what is coming up on the horizon. The further away you need your horizon to be, the more it’ll cost. The largest firms will be paying many, many thousands to be first with that information.

My inspirations for this year

There is, and has been, a long term trend towards rich warm colours and tones along with the ever popular neutral balance. Colours that are so flattering for almost everyone. I have based the palette for my whole 2017 Collection around the colour scheme of Bedouin tents, of lights and spices, of Bohemian decor and fabrics, and of the Arabian Nights. Warm reds, orange and purples, pink, blue and gold, silver grey, white and sand. The pair of Mandarin ducks above seemed to encapsulate many of the colours in this palette. They, and the photos below, illustrate how these colour combinations are around us all the time if we really pay attention.

As I explained in a previous journal posting ‘The New Reality’, we really can wear most of our clothes most of the time. Using these colour inspirations, I will be using thicker textured fabrics, wools and velvet for those chillier days. I will make the most of fine cottons and silks for when the sun shines. The colours will all blend, will live happily on their own and can easily be incorporated into any wardrobe.

I look forward to showing you my ideas and designs soon.