Pantone Color of the Year: Classic Blue

17. March 2020

Pantone presents the 2020 Color of the Year: Classic Blue. This deep and thoughtful blue is said to bring a feeling of dependability and calm. If the 2010’s were the decade of disruption, then this shade alludes to a decade of stability, with a strong connection to technology. Color is an influencer of fashion trends. This union between color and fashion is on full display during the Met Gala, arguably the top fashion event of the year. This year’s Met Gala theme, “About Time: Fashion and Duration”, is a nod to the fast fashion industry. The theme is a call to make fashion more aware of the consequences of producing today’s trends that end up as tomorrow’s trash, and to emphasize the consideration of quality and the lifecycle of fashion.

An end to disruptive action?

While technology will continue to develop, and innovation will still be a word used by businesses to promote their image, this new decade seems to call for an era of stability and a search for trust-based transactions.

The public’s desire for more stability can be seen in the 2020 selection of the Pantone Color of the Year: Classic Blue. Pantone describes Classic Blue as a “timeless and enduring hue, elegant in its simplicity” that “highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.” Pantone selects the color of the year based on “what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time”.


“For us, it was coming up with a way to communicate what’s taking place in the world in our language. We speak a language of color. So, we see things in color. We explain things in color”, writes Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman.

The Pantone Color of the Year selection began in 1999. The very first color chosen was Cerulean Blue. It was described as the color of the millennium and the hue of the future.

20 years later, we have come full circle with another blue selection. Its deeper shade is representative of a calmer era.  


Blue as a historical narrative

In pursuit of the color of the sky, the French artist Yves Klein developed International Klein Blue. At that time, Klein described blue as having “no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions”.

Much as Klein described his vision of the dimensionality of the blue hue, so we find similarities with the work of 20th century philosopher Henri Bergson. In his work “la durée”, or “duration”, Bergson believed time cannot be divided up into minutes or hours. Time, instead, should be understood in its multiplicity.

It is the concept of “la durée” which has inspired this year’s 73rd Met Gala theme: “About Time: Fashion and Duration”.


Harmony in Fashion and Color

Henri Bergson and his philosophy of time inspired the Virginia Wolf film adaptation “Orlando”. In the film, Orlando, played by Tilda Swinton, runs through a maze in the 18th century, and emerges on the other side in the 19th century. It was this scene that was said to be the muse for the Met Gala theme. As she runs through the maze, she is wearing a satin blue Robe à la Française. Here again we see the symbolic blue color reflected, another subtle nods towards blue and multidimensionality found throughout the Met Gala theme.

The symbolism of time-travel for the Met Gala confronts the question: should we return to the classic or jump to the future?

This year’s Met Gala theme reflects the interpretation of 2020 Pantone Color of the Year. Both selections allude to a return to the classic, a sense of stability – Pantone through the choice of the strong and reliable shade of blue, and the Met Gala theme in its word choice, “duration”.


The metamorphosis of the self through fast fashion

It is fair to say the last decade has not been an era of duration for the fashion industry. Fast fashion has taken over the industry as well as the consumer mentality. Self-expression, or even the idea of “self”, changes season by season. With this metamorphosis of self-identification comes the shedding of the old wardrobe, and the birth of the new skin, or the trend of the moment. 

This year’s Met Gala theme can be interpreted as a sense of awareness and a call to move towards quality and durability in fashion.

The fashion industry is seeing a shift away from the “today’s trends, tomorrow’s trash” mentality.  The flow of awareness and placement of responsibility is rippling through the fashion community. Celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix and Stella McCartney are using their platforms to be a voice for these topics in the fashion industry.

As more and more brands and manufacturers move towards responsible production, questions arise as to how to best solve the current challenges facing the industry.


Blue as the color of technology

The deep Classic Blue is also representative of technological innovation. Technology is seen as the backbone of responsible change. Societal change is brought about more quickly through technology than through the implementation of legislation. As such, society will continue to rely on technological innovation as a proponent of change.

In this era of sought-after stability and trust-based transactions, how can organizations distinguish the best technological advancements and solution providers for them?

We see the fashion industry experimenting with new and innovative processes such as materials from 100% recycled PET bottles, or plant-based leather products. Those are sexy solutions, the solutions that make for good headlines. But what about existing supply chains? How can we move towards implementing changes in process that already exists in addition to trying to reinvent the wheel?


20 years in the making 

Bluesign prides itself in encompassing all the characteristics that have been set forth by the Color of the Year.

The Bluesign service focuses on bringing stability, security, and safety into existing supply chains. Our deep blue logo frames our long-standing commitment to providing sustainable solutions for textiles and industry. For the last 20 years, Bluesign has understood that using the Best Available Technology (BAT) is the way to bring about advancement for sustainable and responsible practices into the supply chain.

THE BLUE WAY is a path developed from understanding the needs of the textile industry. Innovation does not need to mean turning everything upside down; instead gaining an understanding of existing systems can bring about remarkable change. Today, Bluesign promotes the most comprehensive and technologically advanced solutions to bring about necessary change in the fashion industry. In many ways we are representative of the Classic Blue hue; we are based in St. Gallen, Switzerland, the traditional hub of the textile industry, and we work with the BAT to move the industry forward. We are rooted in tradition, while moving forward with innovation.

In recent years, attendees of the Met Gala have been heavily criticized for not properly applying the Met Gala theme. It remains to be seen how this year’s theme will be interpreted by those walking the steps of the Met Gala. More importantly, will this year be the year that instead of asking “who are you wearing?” we ask, “how was it made?”

Subscribe to Newsletter

Sign up for the e-newsletter bluesign® SPOTLIGHT and receive latest information from Bluesign.