Merchandising Know-How: Color Coordination

You've heard it said that color attracts. It's an accepted fact when dealing with apparel, and often when selling items like bags, tents and packs. Retailers need to be just as observant about color and how it is represented in their stores.
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You've heard it said that color attracts. It's an accepted fact when dealing with apparel, and often when selling items like bags, tents and packs. In fact, when designers of both hardgoods and softgoods conceptualize their product lines, they prepare color boards to make sure they choose the right color combinations in the right tones and shades. 

Retailers need to be just as observant about color and how it is represented in their stores. There are three basic color groups or families: brights, pastels and neutrals.

  • Brights are hard or saturated colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
  • Pastels are soft colors (actually brights with degrees of white mixed in). Examples are pink, peach, soft yellow, sea foam green, light blue and lavender.
  • Neutrals are basic colors that combine with both families and include white, cream, khaki, brown, olive, gray and black.

Brights and pastels don't mix. The brights will cause the softer colors to look drab and somewhat dirty. When merchandising colors together, hang brights together in one section and pastels together in another.

There is a color spectrum order for hanging apparel on racks or rods. An easy way to remember which colors go where is to use Roy G. Bv. If you've never heard of this fictitious fellow Roy, here's your chance to astound your fellow workers. Each letter stands for a color; R = red, O = orange, Y= yellow, G = green, B = blue, V= violet. Start with the red shades on the left and move through the colors to the right ending with the violet shades. When hanging pastels use the same color order. Neutrals should be hung with the lightest colors on the left moving to the darker colors on the right.

Sharon Leicham's merchandising column appears twice a month in SNEWS. Leicham is the author of Merchandising Your Way to Success and How to Sell to Women and is a frequent contributor to trade magazines writing on merchandising and marketing topics. She recently launched a website, www.merchandisingHUB.com, with information targeted at the independent specialty retailer.

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