Radiant Orchid is the Color of the Year

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Fashion may be your form of expression, but someone else is calling the color shots.


Today, the Pantone Color Institute, the organization that standardizes colors across fashion-related industries, among others, selected the color you will see going down the runways, in the stores, and eventually your closet. The color: “Radiant Orchid.”

To the unrefined eye, the color is a lavender for women and just purple for guys. But to Pantone, Radiant Orchid has fuschia, pink, and purple undertones that “draws you in,” says Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman.


“It’s a color that speaks to creativity. So wearing it enhances your feeling of being creative, of being more innovative,” she said in a video announcement. “And that is so important in today’s life.We’re all looking for that touch of uniqueness.”

Unique? Not so much.

Nearly half of all clothing sold in the U.S. uses textiles of which the color was determined by Pantone. To be specific, a committee of 10 people whose names no one knows decides.


WNYC Reporter Ilya Marritz tried to find out who they are in this story but could only discover that the selected few are chosen by publisher and designer David Shah. The committee meets somewhere in Europe in May and November

The 10 mysterious trend-setters make a collective decision based on their personal experiences and predictions of media and fashion trends.


So how will Radiant Orchid get into your closet?

Pantone, which is actually owned by a multi-million dollar color manufacturer called X-Rite, creates swatches of colors that brands and designers use in communicating to textile suppliers and clothing factories what the company wants.


Each color has a code representing a formula that was cooked up in Pantone’s “kitchen” in New Jersey. The formula - 18-3224 for Radiant Orchid - allows for factories to guarantee meeting a client’s design specs. It’s what Wired Magazine calls the Willie Wonka factory of color.

So you may not just see this royal shade on garments, but also on furniture, nail polish, and appliances. Some companies already implementing this are Urban Outfitters with bedspreads and Old Navy with their signature tank tops.


Even if you don’t like the monopoly Pantone has on color, Radiant Orchid is actually kind of nice. It may have to grow on some of you, particularly the fellas, but it will probably sell.

And if you’re not quite sure how to sport it, don’t worry, Pantone already thought of that.


In its press release, Pantone stated Radiant Orchid pairs well with red for a seductive look and makes green eyes stand out. And for interior decoration, it will make for a nice accent to turquoise, teal, and light yellows.


Thank you secret elite color group. We don’t know how we would dress without you.

Here's a suggestion. Why not open up the process to the public via social media? You can globally crowd-source the color of the year. Who knows? We might just make a tasteful choice ourselves.

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