By Sarah Thurmond
Rafael Nadal shocked the world at this year’s French Open. Not only did he lose his first match at Roland Garros, he also showed up wearing a polo shirt in a shade of pink that Nike calls “bright rose.” Fans and media tore the color apart. One journalist even suggested it made the defending champion seem “less physically imposing,” thus contributing to his early exit. Nadal stood by his choice. “We wear a lot of pink in Spain,” he said. “I think it is a nice color.”
The pink polo incident illustrates the power color has over us. “Color sets a tone, depicts a mood, and speaks to emotions in a personal way for everyone,” says Graham Williamson, vice president of court sports at Adidas. That’s why, when choosing colors for a season, activewear companies go through a process so involved it makes comfort and performance seem almost like afterthoughts.
The brands’ internal design teams create corporate color palettes, dozens of shades that are globally distributed so popular colors can be found in all parts of the world. Some, like the navy and red of Fila’s Heritage collection, carry over each season. Others are chosen to keep up with seasonal fashion trends. (Look out, vibrant ‘80s colors and metallics are coming this fall.)
“Fashion is most critical,” says Claire Ortiz, Wilson’s global apparel and footwear director. “If we’re going against what’s happening in fashion, it doesn’t matter how great a product performs, it just isn’t going to be appealing.”
It typically takes 18 months for a collection to go from concept to product, so there’s a lot of educated guesswork involved in picking timely colors. Designers study architecture, art, film and any other field where a trend might pop up. The bold colors and monochromatic designs of K-Swiss’ spring 2010 collection were inspired by the Olympics and superhero comic books.
Designers also rely on forecasting agencies, such as ESP Trendlab in New York, to provide colors that are expected to be hot that can be incorporated into their brand. “I think of us as the start button for people’s inspiration,” says ESP founder and CEO Ellen Sideri. Inspiration doesn’t come cheap. A customized palette for one season can cost up to $25,000.
But not every trend works for activewear. Dusty, neutral tones are currently fashionable, but a “fresh, sharp, graphic and very positive” palette works for sports retail, Sideri says.
Beyond fashion, consideration goes into fabrics, dyeing processes, and the time of year and the tournament. For instance, the Australian Open, which kicks off the season, is when companies debut brighter colors that set a tone for their collections, like Adidas’ popular neon yellow.
Of course, athletes and consumers play key roles. “It’s really nice to consider the athlete because they represent different types of consumers and how they like to dress,” says Chandler Parker, K-Swiss’ U.S. apparel and accessories product manager. There is a limit, though. Svetlana Kuznetsova asked Fila to design a military green romper for her. “It looked really cute, but we thought it wouldn’t really work at retail,” says Freya Tamayo, Fila’s director of design.
As for Nadal’s pink polo, it was no surprise he went there, says Janice Lucena, Nike’s tennis design director. “He goes for the brightest shades of color in the spectrum.” Lucena also notes that players tend to remember which colors they’re wearing when they win and lose. If that’s true, we probably won’t be seeing Nadal in bright rose anytime soon.
ข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม : thaitennisboard