The New Neutral for 2012

Color trends evolve slowly and steadily. They rarely appear unexpectedly. This year we are caught without much warning in a tidal wave of cheerful yellow apparel, accessories, home products and decor. From tender sorbet to banana to sunflower, this optimistic, south-facing color family, is the new neutral for spring 2012!

For the past year or so something strange has come over me. Colors that never excited me have become my new favorites. Whipped butter, baby chick and day lily have infiltrated my brain. Yellow, a non-existent color in my closet, is going to play a starring role in my black and white wardrobe this spring. I was tasered by a buttercup, patent leather Ted Baker tote. Until I got home, I didn’t I realize what I had done.

Yellow is the new neutral for 2012!

Yellow is the new neutral for 2012!

Perhaps yellow is the antidote to years of recessionary malaise? This burst of sunshine is most modern when worn with other bold brights, or historically unusual parings like bright yellow with grey or beige. It pops in prints played off of grey and white. Yellow can make a vibrant or delicate statement in active wear, shoes, jeans, handbags, lingerie, dresses, accessories and home decor. I expect it to gain steam and be with us for a while. Even if it isn’t your most flattering color, you can get your yellow fix away from the face in a jean or boot.

I especially like the use of yellow this season by BCBG, J Crew, Crate and Barrel, Rag and Bone, 7 for All Mankind, Robert Rodriquez, Sam Edelman, Sperry, Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch and Ted Baker.

Dix&Pond is the blog of dix & pond consulting

Big Runway for Michael Kors

The Gia Satchel from Michael Kors for Spring 2012.

The Gold Python Michael Kors "Gia" Satchel

Michael Kors Holdings, LTD recently announced their first quarterly earning report since their recent successful IPO, on December 15. Not surprisingly , they were exceptional, in fact their revenues were up for third quarter by 67.9% and comp store sales were up 38%. The red-hot company is planning to open 20-30 more stores in North America in fiscal 2013, as well as many more stores in Europe and Japan.

Michael Kors’ business today is a hard-won success after a long career of ups and downs. His appearance in Project Runway helped to make him a household name in the US, but his brand speaks for itself. The company offers the designer Michael Kors luxury collection and the aspirational Michael Michael Kors lower priced line. He has created an urbane brand of sexy, glamorous pieces for sophisticated city slickers (or wannabes). There is no doubt about what you can expect in his free-standing stores: sharp and sexy shoes, statement signature bags, bold  jewelry, power-hungry watches and tight collections of sleek, wearable apparel. His direct, social and online marketing are unswervingly messaged. 

Clear brand vision gets rewarded with growth consistent with the size of your market niche, i.e. Ralph Lauren, Coach, Anthroplogie, Lululemon, Vera Bradley, etc. Kors aspirational luxury niche is a large and viable one, so he has a big growth trajectory ahead of him. The Michael Kors brand isn’t yet as well-known as Coach, which makes his future prospects even greater. There aren’t many mall competitors other than BCBG, chasing his fashion saavy, urbane audience. BCBG tends to be a tad more youthful and contemporary so their apparel fits are more challenging to an audience over 40. Smartly, Michael Kors has focused on ageless accessories, apparel is more of a punctuation to the story. (BCBG has some very formidable accessories, but focuses on clothing.) Kors reports that 62.3% of sales come from accessories and fragrances. Women’s apparel in general, has become more of a commodity, where bags and shoes still offer better turns and pricing power.

The runway is long and wide for a big take-off for Michael Kors!

Neon Lights

Live life in the glow of neon lights in 2012!

Color trends evolve and something happens in the social mood that turns colors that might have been previously unappealing, into a “must-have” sensation. For me, that is neon and heart-stopping bright colors. The are so prevalent in the market this season and sure to reach a fever pitch over the summer. The charge is led by chartreuse, shocking pink, safety orange, reflex royal and washed out neon yellow.

Perhaps, it is the pure energy of these outrageously bright colors? We have been in a recessionary funk for so long, and it is hard to be blase in the presence of neon lights. They are suddenly the essence of modern style and shed new light on a pessimistic period. They are also integral to the active sport inspired, mega-trend in fashion.

I have never been a fan on the uber-bright, but have already purchased an in-your-face chartreuse skirt this year. It is provides a bolt of lightning, every time I see it in my predominantly black and white wardrobe. It is so unfamiliar, it is a new beginning, a new life for 2012.

Neon is showing up everywhere on items like skinny jeans (Rag & Bone), dresses (Michael Kors), bags (Rebecca Minkoff), innovative colorblocked pieces (BCBG) athletic shoes (Asics), casual apparel (J Crew) and yoga wear (Zella).

The modern way to pull off these explosive colors  is to ground them with a neutral, especially heather grey or white. For a dangerous, high-voltage look combine two to three colors in one outfit. For the faint of heart, a trickle of neon trim on sneakers, pumps, a tote, belt or scarf  is enough of a good thing to change your fashion fortunes in 2012.

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