Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cobalt Blue - from runway to road

Once in a while it is educational and fun to hear from the fashion industry, so now CAUS Executive Director Leslie Harrington makes a case for the staying power of a new color trend.

Figure: Cobalt blue in fashion (from

While the business of forecasting new color trends has been more an art than a science since the Color Association first started 100 years ago, it is often hard to validate how “on trend” we have been.  Once in a while we see what we might call a “mega" color trend where a color becomes so prolific that it seems to be everywhere.  Such past color successes were Wasabi in the late 90’s and most recently chartreuse in the early 2000’s.  These colors penetrated all industry sectors but most noticeably in fashion and consumer goods. 

Everyone wants to know what the next “mega” color will be: for many, to have the right color in market at the right time means top-line growth.  Now, it is crystal clear that the “mega” color will be blue.  We have been forecasting blue for the last 5 years, but it is finally hitting its stride, and it is not all blues: specifically it is a deep rich, Cobalt blue.
Today you can find it on the runway. Designers like Ralph & Russo showcase it in their Couture Fall 2014 and Anna Sui in her Ready-to-Wear Spring 2015 collection.  In beauty it is most prevalent in nail polish. Leaders such as OPI and Essie both introduced this color in 2013/14, and shadow and eye liners were not far behind as the color gained popularity.  In consumer goods, it has long been popular in glassware, but we now see it in everything from kitchen appliances to electronics and it was even named Color of the Year by Kelly Moore Paints for 2015. 

But it doesn’t stop there.  Cobalt blue has had its biggest impact on the roads, first seen on pimped-out roadsters, then moving to rims and auto accessories. In 2014/15 it has become the hottest new color.  Lamborghini introduced its Asterion LPI 910-4 concept model at the 2014 Paris Auto show in Cobalt blue. Porsche, BMW and Audi are displaying this color at shows. Even Bentley---long known for its classic and conservative silver position---introduced its new Continental GT Supersports in what they call Moroccan Blue, a shocker for many.  From Bentley to Honda, all car manufacturers seem to be putting money on blue for 2014-15. Just watch while you are out next time: there is a sea of Cobalt Blue. In all types, makes and models, it is a universal color that seems to have cracked all boundaries.  And while it might not always be called Cobalt, the name doesn’t really matter, as you will know it when you see it.  And if I have not made my case for Cobalt as the next color darling then let’s look at the new campaign for ABSOLUT Vodka - known for its annual unique promotion: the brand has rolled out across all international markets a new artistic edition of four million individually designed bottles [1]—ABSOLUT Cobalt. 

Leslie Harrington
The Color Association of the United States

1.  Yes, four million individually designed bottles. As explained on  “Taking inspiration from traditional Swedish glass crafts, every bottle of Absolut Originality has a drop of cobalt blue infused into its glass. This colouring technique has been used for centuries in hand-made art glass, but never before has it been applied to create four million original bottles. Added just as the molten glass goes into the mould at 1100°C, the drop of cobalt blue streams down inside the glass creating a unique streak of blue. At that temperature the cobalt is invisible, but as the glass cools off, a beautiful and unique blue infusion appears.” M.H.B.