trends & subculturesFriday, April 16, 2021

Menswear Color Trends of 2020 with Pantone



So guys, your mission for 2019 (should you have chosen to accept it) was to embrace more color. How did you get on? If there’s not a hint of neo mint (Pantone color of the year 2019, but you knew that right?) in your wardrobe, and you didn’t even attempt one all-silver sportswear look, then you’ve probably failed. But not to worry, a new year brings with it new color trends. The world of menswear has moved on from sage green now, and so should you.


For the second season in a row, we’ve bowed before the goddesses at the temple of color that is Pantone, burning millennial pink clothing and other forgotten colorways from seasons past as offerings to please them. You’ve angered the gods with your inability to break away from your usual color palette, so think of this as your second chance at redemption. Goddess of color Leatrice Eiseman (Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute) has once again taken pity on us mere mortals, and has the following wisdom on the best colors for 2020 as written in the holiest of scriptures – the Pantone Fashion Color Trend Report. Ignore her wise words at your peril.

What are the big shifts in color from 2019 to 2020?

I don’t see any “big shifts” in color per se, but what I do see is a more adventurous approach in the way colors are being combined in unexpected ways, especially in complementary pairings like orange and blue, or yellow and violet, and greens with reds. There is a major return to color blocking as well — another opportunity for unique combinations of colors.


Can you name the key differences between New York and London color palettes?

New York displayed a desire for more stability in classic clothing, yet at the same time a need to express creative and spontaneous design and color approaches. There were many neutrals – what we call “recognized favorites’ – such as Pantone’s Navy Blazer or Lark (a khaki tone) along with a Biscay Green – a shade of aqua – or for a brighter touch, Coral Pink.

London was that of a very colorful expression, some bolder hues like Fiery Red combined with a full-bodied Rose Brown or Beetroot P1urple used with a complementary Yellow Iris. Each of the colors in the collections were strong enough to stand on their own, but bringing them together made a more creative and provocative statement – showing positivity and uplift.


Describe the roles that both traditional and more modern youthful colors play in fashion?

Fashion can represent a change of “mood” and clothing is a way that we can express different feelings. It’s a bit like play-acting. One day we might feel the need for something familiar and comforting, as in traditional clothing or colors, whilst another day (or occasion) something more whimsical and fun. Currently trends are displaying a bit of both, often used in combination with each other and that is what feels more modern and youthful – that sense of experimentation that melds the two moods.

Patterns, multi-colored layering and clashing bold colors seem to be the trends for 2020. What is the secret to mixing colors and patterns? 

The secret in the sauce is keeping a pathway of a specific color running throughout the different pieces. Patterns might change, such as paisley with a striping but the connecting links are similar colors used throughout the outfit.


How do color trends reflect the current state of the fashion industry, and ultimately the society that inspires it?

There are key words used above—stability, creativity, colorful expression, recognized favorites.  They might seem quite the opposite, yet they do represent the state of the world today – somewhat “fractured”. That is reflected in fashion, offering the options of bright and bold, yet still seeking something comforting and familiar.


For someone who wants to empower and express themselves through color, what would be your advice?

There certainly is lots of inspiration coming from social media imagery, however, we can’t really improve on Mother Nature as a source of inspiration.  Take a walk in a garden or the woods—look at the color of the birds, the foliage, the flowers—observe what is in the natural world around you. Find yourself a creative outlet or hobby with color—even dipping into your own closet to reinvent color combinations. It is great fun and eye opening!


So, what colors should you be wearing in 2020?




Who’s doing coral pink in 2019?

Balmain, Dior,  Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, OAMC, Alexander McQueen


Pink must-haves

Pink Shorts

Are we mad for talking about shorts when John Lewis only just released their Christmas advert?! Probably. But we think failing to prepare is preparing to fail, especially when it comes to your summer fits. And if there’s one person we trust above all else with everything fashion and shorts, it’s Hector Bellerin. Perhaps the best dressed footballer of all time he’s in a football kit all through the winter, and walked in arguably the standout look at Louis Vuitton’s SS20 runway – the pink shorts and leather hoodie combo. Don’t think pink shorts are street? Be real. We’ll kindly remind you of Camron’s all-pink look, then direct you to look at former Supreme designer Luke Meier’s OAMC where the pink shorts fall below the knee.


Pink Suiting

For several seasons now, your favourite fashion houses have been pretending they’re street. Sweatpants, sportswear and sneakers have ruled the runways. But, as we prepare for the ‘post-sneaker’ world, the fickle pendulum of fashion has swung in the opposite direction – every brand is back to being all posh and formal with a focus on suiting. Forget tight fitting suits on estate agents though, in 2020 tailoring is distinctly slouchy, and both subtle and in-your-face pinks add a further rebellious twist to what was once a symbol of the establishment. Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten and McQueen have all done their take. Too scared to go the whole hog? Go for seperates. A nice pink blazer or pair of trousers is a good compromise.


Pairs well with…

White, greens, yellows and neutrals.


Pantone match

Coral Pink would best suit Brilliant White (Pantone 11-4001).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…

Acne Studios Toronty Logo Scarf, Jacquemus Le Marain Long-Sleeve Top, Brain Dead Drawcord-Cuff Track Pants, Superga Lace-Up Sneakers




Who’s doing purple in 2019?

Off-White, Kenzo, Alyx, Givenchy


Purple must-haves


Anything Tie-Dye

The tie-dye trend has been back for a hot minute and is showing no signs of slowing down. Time for you to take it one step further next season, now you’re gonna be layering trends on trends by pairing the season’s hottest color with the OG counterculture patterning. Off-White sets the template for this where ombre sweatpants and long sleeve t-shirts were seen side by side with bleached purple flannel shirts and work pants.


Anything Technical Nylon 

Purple has forever been the color of the outdoors. Think Patagonia’s logo, vintage Nike ACG colorways and North Face’s very exclusive Japan only Purple Label. As fashion’s love affair with the world of hiking and everything Gore-Tex continues, so does the ‘looks like I’m climbing Everest, when really I’m only getting the tube to work’ aesthetic. So it makes sense that if you’re looking for something that looks like it’ll protect you from torrential downpours, and is made from military-grade nylon yet has a contemporary design, then it’s only right for it to be purple. The Kenzo and Alyx outerwear pieces will be what the cool kids wear on their geography field trips next season.


Pairs well with…

Denim, green, brown and orange.


Pantone match

Grape Compote would best suit Blush Beauty (Pantone 16-1534).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…


Carhartt WIP Logo Patch Knitted Hat, Martine Rose Drawstring Neck Sweatshirt, Adidas Logo Shearling Tracksuit Pants, Nike Air Max 95 SE Low-Top Sneakers




Who’s doing yellow in 2019?

Lanvin, Hermes, Thom Browne, Rick Owens


Yellow must-haves


Yellow Jacket

When Atlantan rapper Future admitted to dropping $300k a month on clothing, before forking out $39k in one session on Complex’s ‘Sneaker Shopping’, he exhibited some next level BDE. This is how real men shop. And the lasting image seared on our retinas, forever intertwined with this beautiful moment, was that of his bright yellow puffer jacket. This is your goal for next season. Need some direction? Jacquemus’ perfect woolen overshirt has us lusting after summer already, while fashion GOAT Rick Owens delivers a slick piece of outerwear that looks like the freaky but sexy lovechild of a kimono, fisherman’s oilskins and a tuxedo jacket. 


Yellow Relaxed Trousers

There was a time when baggy trousers meant jeans sagged below the buttocks with boxers or builder’s bum on display, but no more. But now, baggy is no longer synonymous with one size too big denim, but rather structured and well tailored wide-leg trousers that don’t swamp your footwear. These sophisticated pants are part of the wider shift to everything oversized, and everyone from Marni to Rick Owens is getting in on the act. 

Yellow Bag

If you’re over your ‘I’m a rudeboy but daddy has a yacht’ phase, then it’s time to ditch your shotter bag for a cute yellow one. Go full Tom Sawyer with a wicker basket bag from Jacquemus, or for something more acceptable on the streets opt for their classic messenger. We’re also tipping Jil Sander’s tiny box handbag to be the must-have accessory of the year for those men who can pull it off, just watch out for your other half stealing it. Bonus points if you can make a clutch look as good as the models at Dunhill do.


Pairs well with…

Black, brown, white and red.


Pantone match

Yellow Iris would best suit Biscay Green (Pantone 15-5718).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…


Soar Logo Print Perforated Cap, Sunnei Striped Pattern Shirt, Orlebar Brown Sammy II Short-Sleeve T-Shirt, Napapijri Naset Waist Bag



Who’s doing blue in 2019?

Kenzo, Junya Watanabe, Fendi, Celine, Lemaire, Amiri


Blue must-haves


Denim flares

Baggy, skinny, selvedge, raw. Keeping up with denim trends can be tiring, but next season we’ll make it easy for you. It’s the moment your dad has been waiting for, time to go flared or go home. If you think this trend is a no for you? Look to Martine Rose, Gucci, Celine for that denim X-Factor, where the more Simon Cowell the cut, the better (black high heeled boots optional).


Denim shirt

Is the denim shirt perhaps the most versatile piece of clothing of all time? We think so. Hear us out. Worn by soccer mums and streetwear aficionados alike, this classic workwear piece unites all genders, subcultures and classes like no other. Name a piece of clothing that links together Texan cowboys, Visvim clad Goros collectors, and genderless fashion fans more than a faded denim shirt. You can’t can you? We win. If you haven’t got one yet, go traditional with Carharrt, Western with Levi’s, or minimalist with Helmut Lang.


Pairs well with…

Black, khaki, cream, baby blue, navy and white, light brown, pink and grey. 


Pantone match

Denim Blue would best suit Blueberry (Pantone 19-4021).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…


Polo Ralph Lauren Polo 1992 Vintage-Style Cap, Balenciaga Layered Denim Shirt, Heron Preston Slim-Fit Logo Pocket Jeans, Converse Chuck Taylor 70 Sneakers




Who’s doing orange in 2019?

Berluti,Vetements, Raf Simons, Valentino, Stella McCartney


Orange must-haves


Orange T-Shirt

Kanye’s been slowly making orange a thing for some time now, if we’d only paid attention. Remember the orange stripe on the 350’s? Or ‘The Life Of Pablo’ album cover? What about his Wyoming merch? And Kim K’s orange phase? All the signs were there. Better late than never though right? Here’s how to get into the trend, start small with just an orange tee. In terms of sheer versatility, a blank orange t-shirt can’t be bested, but if you’re looking for something more on-trend then get one with graphics or text on it. Our favourite prints came from Raf Simons, Valentino and County of Milan.

Orange Knitwear

Sleeveless loose-gauge, boxy v-necks, or asymmetric and deconstructed – it’s up to you. Next season’s stand out knitwear prove that woolens are not strictly just for winter. Lightweight knits were seen on the runways at Bottega Veneta, Marni and Woo Youngmi, where they were either expertly layered over shirting with the sleeves bunched up, or worn on bare skin.


Orange Trench

The orange trench looks like a strong contender for the formal coat of the season. Although seasons back Heron Preston and Calvin Klein popularised the high-viz aesthetic, orange can come off a bit too EasyJet, oompa loompa or faux proletariat when paired with workwear or sportswear. That’s why orange peel is perfectly suited to a more formal silhouette, which balances out its vibrant hue.  At Berluti the trenches are expertly cut with a boxy oversized fit, while at A-Cold-Wall there’s a slim-tailored double-breasted woolen number. But it's Bottega Veneta that steals the show with the wetlook leather trench. 


Pairs well with…

White, red, black, light blue, grey and dark brown.


Pantone match

Orange Peel would suit best Ash (Pantone 16-3802).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…


Stone Island Zip-Front Lightweight Jacket, A-Cold-Wall* Panelled Multi-Pocket Gilet, Heron Preston Logo Print Belt Bag, Burberry Logo Patch Track Pants




Who’s doing green in 2019?

Hermes, Fendi, Dries Van Noten, gmbh, Berluti


Green must-haves


Military Jacket

M-65, M-A1, M-51, M-whatever. While there’s almost as many types of army jacket as there are British motorways, this is no bad thing. A classic military jacket never goes out of style, and just like our favourite ring roads we’ve grown to love their hard shoulders, straight lines and functionality. From military-style shirting, to cold weather parkas and technical shell jackets, there’s a layer for every occasion which makes it easy to work a bit of army outerwear into your rotation.


Combat Trousers

You’re probably sensing a bit of a theme here, and maybe a lack of imagination, but when we're talking about green we can’t get army out of our heads. We like to think of the cargo pant as the male equivalent of the handbag – they’re great for holding stuff, and it’s always nice to find a forgotten tenner in one of their pockets. Engineered Garments had this look on lock before Travis Scott made it big, but our fashion week favourites came from gmbh, Lou Dalton, Sacai and Junya Watanabe. 


Storm Green Trousers

There’s something very British about a pair of storm green trousers. It conjures up images of racing green Mini’s, Victorian green pub tiles, Walkers salt and vinegar crisps, and Reverend Green from ‘Cluedo’. Just when we needed it most, the fashion world has embraced a color that represents everything great about Britain. It’s only polite we return the favor, by buying trousers from our friends at Casablanca, Our Legacy, Missoni, Neil Barrett and Zegna and wearing them all summer. 


Pairs well with…

Baby blue, charcoal, dark brown, burgundy, turquoise, bright pink, yellows and oranges.


Pantone match

Storm Green would best suit Cuban Sand (Pantone 15-1314).


What to buy to get ahead of the trend…


Paul Smith Contrast Panelled Dinner Suit, Casablanca Tennis Court Logo Hoodie, Missoni Side Stripe Track Trousers, Prada Milano 70 Sneakers


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