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Fashion Fabric Sourcing

Referencing Color; Worth the Expense?

Pantone - The plus seriesI love color.  I love using color when I design textiles.  I love wearing color. I love a colorful living space.  Hues of Green, Blue, Red, Yellow, Purple, Brown, you name it. Ah, key words right there. Name it.  There are so many ways to refer to such a vast rainbow of colors that it can at times be too overwhelming to take on.  Now there are some great resources for labeling your palette but about when communicating with mills?  When custom dyeing,  how do we insure that we are going to get exactly what we had in mind? Yes, we can agree to a slight color allowance but who are we kidding?  Designers have a vision and no one is going to change it but them.  So what are our alternatives?  We can send the mill a swatch for lab dips.  That’s fine if you have a swatch that you don’t mind never seeing again but what if you’ve found the perfect color in the form of an expensive and beautiful pair of pants that you simply cannot risk losing?  Enter Pantone. Now, as textile and fashion professionals, we are all aware of Pantone, I would hope.  They set the color standard assigning numbers to every shade under the sun, allowing for easy color matching communication between designer and mill.  The thing is, Pantone updates and changes the numbering system in their books on a regular basis.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it’s yearly.  So what happens when you and your mill are working with different editions? Do you really want to tear apart your color reference to send chips overseas?  Updating a $1000.00 reference book yearly isn’t really something small companies can afford to do, is it?

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that this post isn’t really about introducing you to Pantone and it’s many resources, I did that already.  It’s really just me trying to find out if you,  as industry pros, see Pantone as an important aspect of production.  Do you think they are worth the pesos?  If so, do you spend the big bucks for the fabric swatch books or do you stick to the card stock?  Is there anything they could offer to make the cost worth while?  Just how valuable to you find find them to be?