You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Color



The relationship between fashion and color is long and complicated. Throughout history, certain colors in clothing symbolized specific values depending on the time and culture they were worn in. Although these values have changed over time, color is still one of the primary communicative aspects of clothing. The four recently published articles below explore the ways in which color has played a role in the fashion world, from the invention of new dye techniques to the question of whether certain shades can be copyrighted by brands. Enjoy!

1. Chen, Y., Lu, H., & Chen, Z. (2013). Elicitation and acquisition of knowledge related to clothing colour design. International Journal of Advanced Operations Management, 5(1), 31-44.

Elements of clothing colour design were discussed and analysed in this research. Both colour sample base and colour sensory image base were proposed. Eighty–nine colours with different hue, value and chroma were selected for the colour samples base. The knowledge related to clothing colour design was suggested as two aspects: design knowledge, which includes design rules and theories, and sensory knowledge, which shows the relations between the colour samples and word pairs applied to describe the sensory effect of the colours. All this was elicited and acquired from professionals by interviewing, card sorting and fuzzy clustering methods, etc. During application, the improper colours were deleted from the colour sample base first according to the customer’s character and the time, place and occasion (TPO) principle. Then the remainders could be clustered by using transfer closure based on the fuzzy equivalence matrix. An application framework was provided to show the process of knowledge application. — Paraphrased Article Abstract

2. Falk, S. (2013). What do you care what the color of my sole is?: Analyzing if copyright law is a better solution for the those seeking protection for color in the fashion industry. Retrieved from:

Intellectual property law in the United States offers very limited protection for color elements in fashion design. Recently, the Second Circuit decided that Christian Louboutin, a high-end designer known for shoes with red lower soles, could seek protection under trademark law for a red lower sole that contrasted with the shoe’s upper sole. However, this decision limited Louboutin’s original trademark. Historically, there has never been a court case dealing with copyrighting color in the fashion industry in the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit noted that this case should have actually been litigated under copyright law and not trademark law. Historically, the usual avenue for seeking protection for color is under trademark law. This Comment applies United States copyright law to the Louboutin case to establish that color should be protected under copyright law. This Comment argues that fashion designers should now seek protection under copyright law, rather than trademark law, to protect their use of color in their designs since copyright law offers more legal rights and protection. Additionally, this Comment will refute the shade confusion and color depletion theories, which legal scholars and courts have used to argue that color should not be afforded protection at all. — Full Article Abstract

3. Forster, S. V., & Christie, R. M. (2013). The significance of the introduction of synthetic dyes in the mid 19th century on the democratisation of western fashion. Journal of the International Colour Association, 11, 1-17.

From the middle of the 19th century, fashionable garments for women, which had previously been restricted largely to the wealthy social classes, began to become much more widely accessible in society. Many factors contributed towards this change, including the invention of the domestic sewing machine, the growing popularity of the ‘fashion magazine’, the introduction of department stores and the development of ready-made fashions, as heralded in particular by Charles Worth. However, an element that had an especially profound influence on this democratisation process was the discovery of synthetic textile dyes and their rapid industrial development, initiated famously by William Perkin’s Mauveine, which resulted in the availability of a wide range of new bright colours for use in garment coloration. This paper contextualises the influence of the commercial introduction of these dyes in the mid 19th century on the adoption of fashionable dress by a much wider section of the general population. — Full Article Abstract

4. Okoro, M. N. (2013). Aesthetics of colour and drapery in decorative arts: A survey of silk-linen fabrics design and decoration in Nigeria. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 2(3), 187-193. 

The study delves into an aspect of decorative arts that deals with the use of draped coloured silk-linen fabrics for design/decoration. It also shows how the colours and the drapery of silk-linen fabrics help to stimulate and delight our senses when seen in sitting rooms, halls, churches, social arenas like wedding ceremonies, rendezvous, and other places where these coloured silk-linen fabrics are used for decoration. The major aspect of the study is based on the effects of colours and drapery (that is also known as folds) of silk-linen fabrics in the interior and exterior decorations. The aesthetic aspects of these silk-linen fabrics in their varying colours and drapes in places such as the inside of churches, inside of halls, outside of social arenas as festivals, inside of homes (sitting rooms), and so on is looked into to show how these coloured silk-linen fabric decorations/designs in their colour variations, interplay, and folds beautify the entire background of the above-mentioned places. Photographs of different draped coloured silk-linen fabric installations were useful visual devices for analysis and interpretation in the study. However, the absence of these designs of draped coloured silk-linen fabrics in any of the above-mentioned places makes them not conform to the aesthetic needs of our time, especially now that fashion is the order of the day. Without doubt, the effects of colours and drapery of silk-linen fabric decoration on these places in their opulent splendours and adornment stimulate and delight our sensory perceptions. — Paraphrased Article Abstract


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