How Important is Color?  Think Tank written by Apparel Search
Think Tank  Color is very exciting.  Don't you agree?

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Cut us a break on shade variance !  Is the shade lot that critical???

A person's recognition of an object's color is the result of a complex process involving the response of the brain to the interaction of light with the object. Numerical descriptions of these three components ( 1. light source, 2. object, 3. observer) are all that is required to calculate the description of any color with an objective set of numbers. Other factors certainly influence our perception of color, but without these three components there is no perception.

After reading the above definition, I have certainly given myself a headache. I apologize if I have created a similar situation in your head. Basically, I was trying to come up with an intelligent introduction for this brief discussion on color. Unfortunately, I have failed miserably. Once again, color is giving me a difficult time. Why is color so troubling for some of us?

I want you to pay special attention to the word "perception" which is listed in the above definition. Is my "perception" of color different than your perception of color? Do we all see color in the same light? Why does one person sitting in a testing lab 'perceive' that my lab dip is not acceptable???

With the exception of mixing colors for printing & dyeing, why are some of us (I hate to point fingers, but I am referring to "Retailers") so concerned with the "shade" of colors?  Is it truly critical that the store in Norfolk, VA and the store in Freehold, NJ have the exact same color shade?  Possibly, the shoppers in Virginia plan yearly meetings with similar shoppers in New Jersey so that they can join forces and compare shade lots. However, I find this thought to be highly unlikely. Heaven forbid if their samples do not match perfectly

Personally, when I look at a banana, I understand that the color is yellow. Do I really need to study the lightness, chroma, hue, absorbed / scattered or transmitted light, that effects the appearance of the banana?  I think not
Should we start complaining to the supermarket if we buy a bunch of bananas and each banana is a different color?  We simply understand that it is part of nature to have color variance with bananas.  Why can't we train the apparel consumer to understand that color variance is also acceptable in clothing? (I am talking about "minor" variance)

When I shop for clothing, should I be concerned that the store in the next town has a slightly different shade of navy T-shirts?  For that matter, should I be upset if I see two different shades on the same rack in the same store?  Actually, I should be thrilled.  As a consumer, I should be happy that my favorite retailer has provided an assortment of navy shirts for me to choose from.  The large retailers (the ones that generally object to minor variance in the first place) will have more then one shirt in my size.  Therefore, color variance actually increases the assortment for the purchaser.  In addition to increased assortment, color variance should not be considered a negative because after I wash the shirt a few times, the color will change anyway (unless you purchase T-shirts from the Apparel Search Production department; our colors do not run or fade...).

You are probably starting to ask yourself, "what is the point of this article?" Well, since you have asked, I will tell you. The moral of this story is "Retailers should not worry so much about slight variation in shade bands." I would like to ask the following questions to the clothing retailers of the world:

  1. Do you have documentation indicating that consumers are upset if you have a blue shirt in your Kansas store that does not match the blue shirt in your store in Florida?
  2. How many orders are shipped late to your stores because you have requested vendors to make minor color corrections? (have you calculated the cost, time and frustration resulting in these delayed shipments).
  3. Do you think customers own light boxes in their homes? (personally, I get dressed in the dark every morning)
  4. When you charge your vendors for shade band testing, do you think that cost is not reflected in your price? The theory that the vendor pays the invoice, therefore it does not cost me, is not the reality
  5. Why are you so up tight regarding slight variance??? After all, this is fashion

Fashion, color, design, should be cherished not tested, evaluated and evaluated again.  We are not splitting cells or reproducing organs.  We are simply garmentos.  Lets remember who we are and what we do. Working together for the good of the industry would be beneficial to all.  Save money for retailers and manufacturers alike. Ban the light box
  Be forgiving with slight color variance
  Remember, "Navy" and "slightly darker navy" is still navy
  Don't be so picky

If we have offended manufacturers, we are glad.  If we offended retailers, we are one slight shade more glad. Can you measure the variance between "glad" and "slight shade more glad"? I can't either
get the point.

Written by Apparel Search 10/27/00

Response to this article from Apparel Search viewer 8/30/02

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