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Pantone’s Colors of the Year and How They’re Set to Influence Fashion



Ever since the turn of the century, Pantone has been curating and releasing its list for ‘Color of the Year’, which sets out to define the months ahead. That includes naming the shades we’ll likely see on catwalks and in magazines. In 2019, Living Coral was deemed the winner, while Classic Blue was chosen to represent 2020. But Pantone has settled on not just one but two colors as 2021’s trademarks.

The two shades wearing the crown this year are Illuminating (yellow) and Ultimate Gray. Pantone stated that they have picked these two hues as they naturally contrast with one-another, whilst simultaneously working together to create a fashionable color pair. On the other hand, the last time two colors were crowned victorious together was in 2016, when Rose Quartz and Serenity (blue) were chosen due to their soft similarities and the cloudy, dream-like combination they created when used together.

This year, however, Ultimate Gray was chosen to represent the struggles 2020, while Illuminating contrasts both Ultimate Gray in color and meaning. The warm yellow hue was picked to represent optimism, the light at the end of an ‘Ultimate Gray’ tunnel. Most will agree that these two hues accurately illustrate the two different aesthetics likely to characterize 2021.

Pantone and 2021 fashion

Furthermore, many fashion brands are embracing these two tones in light of Pantone’s results, within their new 2021 collections. Among the brands designing pieces and collections with these two colors in mind are Balenciaga and Max Mara.

Balenciaga showcased their 2021 collection on December 6th, 2020. The presentation of the new line undoubtedly set the tone for 2021 fashion. Rather than debuting the new line on the traditional runway, Balenciaga created a video game entitled Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. The brand described the game as ‘an innovative, record-breaking video game designed especially for this season’. It seems, as well as innovating fashion and the pieces themselves, 2021 sets out to be a year that will inspire change across the industry.

The all-yellow hoodie and joggers set designed by Balenciaga act as a great indication of the road that fashion is going to take this year. This oversized block-color set perfectly encapsulates boldness, comfort, and style into two key pieces that are sure to feature in everyone’s wardrobe as a stay-at-home staple.

The brand have also designed the perfect shoe that will be the talk of the season. This sneaker showcases a simplistic design, whilst still utilizing the classic Balenciaga branding and style. The conversation in colors created through the use of different shades of the fashionably understated neutral and gray tones, helps to make this sneaker perfect for an elevated everyday outfit.


They’re not the only ones, though. Balenciaga seems to be the figurehead in a trend for shoes that play around with neutrals and grays, with plenty of like-colored options coming from fellow major fashion houses. One company, Tarrago, has even developed a selection of Self Shine Color Dyes in the Pantone colors, for those among you willing to risk upcycling your existing staples.

Meanwhile, Max Mara has been greatly influenced by Pantone’s decision to award Ultimate Gray this year’s title, as their fall collection is made up of simple, monochromatic gray ensembles. They prefer subtlety over boldness, which is why they have created various pieces in varying shades of the hue.

This doesn’t mean that there are no bold prints, however. Max Mara have already revealed a gorgeous satin gray scarf which shows a classic white polka dot look. The maxi size of the polka dots introduces a pattern that avoids making the scarf too busy, thus striking Max Mara’s usual seamless balance.

It will be exciting to see how the fashion world continues to adopt Illuminating and Ultimate Gray in 2021. Keep your eyes out for more big names cottoning on to the Pantone trend and gifting us with even more high-fashion ensembles


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