As such a major component of our collections—especially this season—a ton of time and effort goes into every single one of our color choices. Far from simply picking combos we’re feeling at the time, the process is a truly artistic and scientific endeavor, taking months and touching almost every team in our business. To shed some light on how we ensure you get the absolutely perfect hue every single time, we sat down with VP of Design & Fashion Director Shaun Kearney for his expert insights into the process.
Where does your color inspiration come from?
Honestly, it comes from anywhere and everywhere! I always make sure I’m paying attention to my surroundings and what’s going on around me because inspiration can come from anywhere, often when you least expect it. I’ve taken inspiration from someone I see on the street, the colors on the sidewalk or a beautiful photograph. Recently, I’ve been looking a lot at the shades used in Instagram filters and how various people use them—they’ve become such a big part of how we share moments in our lives that looking at them in more depth is fascinating. I’m also hyper-critical when it comes to color and definitely give a lot more thought and attention to color in my everyday life than the average person needs (or wants) to!
What’s the process for deciding how and when to use color?
It’s very complex and quite involved! I usually like to look at how color is trending for the season by attending industry events like Première Vision in Paris, which I actually just got back from. There, you get a sense of the level of color that’s going to trend for the season ahead, which just helps you get into the right mindset and guide you towards some inspiration, for example, are you looking at a soft, feminine, beachy vibe? Or something bold, glossy and 1960s-inspired? Eventually, you find yourself gravitating towards a story about what the Fabletics woman is doing and wearing for that specific season.
From there, we come up with a master color assortment and then place the colors into their delivery times. We look very carefully at what women want to be wearing at any given time, and generally the pattern for each season goes: wear-now colors > transitional colors > true seasonal colors. We want to tell a story with our color choices that builds perfectly throughout the season.
What’s the technical process behind getting the colors perfect?
Once we have a color palette, I work with my team to find perfect examples of each shade—it can be old fabrics, photographs, tears from magazines, etc.—and send them to the mill for them to lab dip the colors. There is A LOT of back and forth. We might get 16 versions of the same color back and decide that none of them are perfect and go through the whole process over and over again. I analyze the shades with my team, and we’re at the point now where we can look at a color and instantly say “it has 5% too much red” or “it needs to be 10% less saturated,” so we have to train our eyes to see that in such detail!
What are the hardest colors to get right?
Black and white! People are so surprised by that, but when we were coming up with our standards for Fabletics black and white, they look an incredible amount of time. If you get black or white even slightly wrong, they can look old, dirty, used or can even read as a totally different color. Prints are also very complex because you’re dealing with and adjusting multiple colors at once.
What are the Fabletics woman’s favorite colors?
She always loves neutrals, just because they’re classic but she definitely responds to deep jewel tones, so we always try to reinvent those to give her something new and fresh each time. She loves teal, she loves burgundy, just rich, sophisticated tones, especially for Fall.
What was your favorite Fabletics color palette so far?
I really love this month, just because we really went all out with color and it became the focus of the collection. I also loved last September because we experimented with a very new palette, grounded in this intense forest green, which I thought was so beautiful. That collection also introduced the Nocturnal Floral print, which was one of my absolute favorites.
What do we do with the color palettes when we move onto a new collection?
Every single color we’ve ever used is archived. Every. Single. Color! I think it’s so important to look back at where you’ve been to decide where you want to go next, so for every collection, I have the team look at what we did for that month last year and see how we can push it and make it even better! That’s what’s amazing about this job: that no matter how much you love something you’ve created, there’s always the potential to create something you love even more.
Stay tuned for even more behind-the-seams posts from Shaun and the rest of the Fabletics team, coming soon! In the meantime, shop our most colorful collection to date, right here!