Forecasters predict a blue year

Mar 01, 1999 10:30 PM  By

In this era of increasing technology and cold impersonality, you might expect the hot colors of the next year to be cold metallics and steely grays. But trend forecasters and merchandisers expect warm rusts, golden yellows, and all shades of blue to dominate in 2000-”perhaps as a reaction to the technology,” says Margaret Walch, director of New York-based Color Association of the U.S. (CAUS), a design forecasting group. “We’re entering a time where consumers want lighter, more colorful shades.”

“People are tired of the black and the bleak,” agrees merchandise consultant Carol Fraser. “Consumers are looking for more joy.”

And forecasters expect that come next year, blue will bring consumers the most joy-and marketers plenty of greenbacks. “Blue is the color of the millennium,” says Carole D’Arconte, president of New York-based consultancy The Color Portfolio. “Any shade of blue will sell because it’s serene and pure, like the ocean”-which, again, represents a backlash against high tech.

Gina Valentino, director of marketing at Chicago-based women’s apparel cataloger Barrie Pace, is already seeing an increased demand for blue clothing. From navy suits to sky-blue blouses, “blue is seen as fashion-forward,” she says. Valentino also expects coppers and burgundies to be popular this spring and well into 2000.

The fading of the green Apparel catalogers aren’t the only ones who can expect to be blue next year. In home decor, “light blue and pale yellow are going to be in demand,” predicts Linda Spellman, director of marketing for St. Louis-based Knights Ltd., which publishes home furnishings catalog Home Decorators Collection. “Also, the antique-washed look-some people call it ‘tea-stained’-will be popular, especially for rugs and carpeting.”

But what of hunter and sage greens, which had been favorites of home decor marketers and their customers for several years? Indeed, “merchandisers had a long and profitable run on green in home decor,” Fraser says. “Now, however, consumers are looking for softer tones.”

But Atlanta-based merchandising consultant

Leila Griffith warns against unloading all of your olive draperies and kiwi towels at sale prices just yet. “I always tell catalogers, ‘Don’t go away from what is proven,” she says. “Pay attention to the trends and update your book with them, but not at the expense of what works.”-MDF

In “Where are they now?” (January 1999), we mistakenly listed two catalog start-ups from 1994, The Edutainment Catalog and Back to the ’50s, as “missing in action.” The Edutainment Catalog, based in Boulder, CO, is now generating annual sales of $15 million and last year was bought by educational software marketer The Learning Co. Back to the ’50s was acquired by Las Vegas-based Crown Ventures in 1995 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April ’98.

Also, in the January 1999 “List Watch” story “‘Professional’ buyers,” Playboy’s Critic’s Choice Video and Collectors’ Choice Music catalogs were testing mailings of catalogs to doctors’ offices, not Playboy magazine, as the story implied.