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Fashion brands are using “silent logos” as their latest branding strategy

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In Sex And the City, Mr Big, Carrie Bradshaw’s ex-lover, declares with disdain, “Everything in my apartment is now beige.” He’s referring to his new wife’s fondness for minimalism—a classic example of brands pivoting to what we will come to understand as silent logos. Ever the snark, Bradshaw replies, “I thought you wanted beige.” The shade is a synonym for a templatised life. And as fashion folk know, once you’ve tried on Bradshaw’s technicolour coat, beige is a hard palette to live with. That’s the thing about colours, they are inherently evocative. Red signifies passion and sex, pink reminds you of childhood birthday parties. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone Color Institute, notes that yellow induces a playful mood, which explains smiley faces. In fashion, patterns, cuts and fabrics need a discerning eye, but colours speak a universal language—one that luxury brands often employ as silent logos.

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For spring/summer 2024, Burberry premiered ‘knight’ blue by Daniel Lee—previously responsible for the viral ‘parakeet’ green at Bottega Veneta during his tenure there. In September 2023, during London Fashion Week, the city’s Bond Street tube station was temporarily painted in the shade and rechristened ‘Burberry Street’. Over at Sabato De Sarno’s Gucci debut, we were introduced to Rosso Ancora, a deep maroon edging towards oxblood, inspired by the lining of the brand’s very first Jackie bag, and the colour of the elevator at London’s the Savoy hotel, where the house’s founder Guccio Gucci worked as a bell boy.The recipe isn’t new—you’ll remember Pier Paolo Piccioli’s Pink PP for Valentino washed over runways and your Instagram feed a few seasons ago, becoming an official Pantone shade. In the aftermath, Google Shopping statistics showcased more than a 100 per cent surge in searches for hot-pink swimsuits, dresses and accessories. According to experts, the campaign generated $2.9 million in media impact value or MIV, a metric which allows brands to assign a monetary value to digital coverage. It certainly helped that Barbie released its pink media juggernaut shortly after.

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Representative Image. Photographed by Ashish Shah.

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Shades of India

In a country that embraces colour as its calling card, Indian designers are spoilt for choice. Sabyasachi is partial to vermillion—it dominated his bridal wear, campaign shoots and, most recently, his lipstick collaboration with Estée Lauder. In his native Kolkata, the pigment has a storied history. Traditionally, Bengali homes line their doors with red oxide, mirrored in the border of laal paar saris and the shade of the holy sindoor worn by goddess Durga, revered in West Bengal.

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From the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, Jayanti Reddy has championed a royal purple since the inception of her eponymous brand, even choosing the colour for her own wedding lehenga.

“As evident in Raja Ravi Varma’s royal portraits, purple provides the perfect complement for jewellery, from gold to pearls, emeralds and rubies,” says Reddy. Historically, the colour came from the mucus of a rare sea snail shell, which was expensive to acquire, and so naturally fell under the patron-age of royalty. To celebrate a decade of her brand in 2021, she created an art installation in collaboration with designer Devika Narain, inviting guests to create her signature purple shade with pigments provided.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tarun Tahiliani expresses quiet luxury via a palette of earthy shades, an ode to “Indian mitti”. “ The patina of Indian dust signifies the process of ageing and evolution, while being grounded and rooted,” he explains. “ That’s why it’s inspired my collections year after year.”

Boosting sales is a good enough reason for designers to commit to a colour, but as with all creative pursuits, the decision can be therapeutic too. Ancient Egyptians believed in the healing powers of certain hues, and today, art therapy is a popular alternative modality. Practitioners believe that painting with certain colours can identify behavioural patterns and release trauma. According to Amrita Dhillon of the Lightbow School of Art therapy, turquoise signi es serenity and sensitivity that can calm anxious thoughts. Yellows inspire a sense of joy while greens, like Bottega Veneta’s unmissable parakeet, stimulate inner well-being. “ The language of colour has the potential to mirror our inner vibe. It works at a subconscious level, guiding us in gaining insights to transform our daily life,” says Dhillon.

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Also read:

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Bright colours on larger-than-life rocks—that’s the new ethos of the Indian jewellery world’s future-forward designers

Aditi Rao Hydari’s multicoloured Sabyasachi blouse is an all-purpose investment for the wedding season

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