A 30,000 Color Rainbow

August 07, 2019

There are many steps to making Renewed Apparel. We sort, inspect, clean, repair, test, inspect again, certify, photograph, etc... Each part has its own set of standards and practices, each member of production team is an expert in their area. All of those different stages head in one direction, to the final expert, Hana Jones.

Hana is TRW's main production merchandiser and, in her deft hands, rests a lot of power. One of her most crucial roles is designating the color for each item that comes through the factory. We all know that color is a defining quality for clothing. It's also very subjective. Anyone remember fighting with a friend about that blue/gold dress meme? Color is personal. It's emotional. It's the difference between loving something and liking it - or not.

For us, color is a constant challenge. Think about the number of different colors you see when you shop online for one brand. Now, multiple that by 20 and 10-20 seasons each. From Paprika to Champagne, Sea Foam to Ashen Purple we've seen them all. To get some better insights into how she manages the never ending color wheel, I asked Hana about the process.

What's it like to have so much power? You are the ultimate color commentator?

HJ: I don't feel like I have that much power. It's more a responsibility to think about how best to communicate to the customer in a way that lets them understand what's going on. And, to do that while honoring the brands original vision and creativity. It's a lot!

What are the biggest challenges to deciding colors?

It's really subjective. Our job is to get all the different colorways to fit under something that makes sense and is manageable for the customer to navigate. That's the first big hurdle. Even on the team, we look at the same colors differently sometimes.

Another big thing that people don't always realize is how different things look online versus in person. The settings, quality of your screen, even how bright or light it is will impact how a color comes across. We try and take all of that into account. 

It is challenging for sure. 

What's the best part?

I like deciding. It makes the job a little more fun. What we do has a lasting effect on the customers. And, we try hard to communicate well with our customers and create a great experience for them. It's fun to have a part in that.

How do you decide when it's time to add this another color?

When we're out of options for a style. We look at all the options on the color chart and if the style has five blue jackets and we're standing there looking at another shade of blue, we add a more specific color - like Cobalt. Sometimes, after a color has come through a lighter or darker version will arrive so we have to deal with that too. It's really hard to re-categorize after we've set a color so we try and come up with creative ways of dealing with those scenarios. But, the reality is, sometimes the green might be a lighter shade than the light green. 

I tell customers that's part of the fun of the hunt. So, what's the next color you want to roll out?

I'm asking for mustard next.

That makes sense! We do have a number of mustard items. That'd be good to get up before we start rolling out the autumn inventory. What's the most interesting color name you've seen lately?

Rabbit Grey - it's this lavender-y grey that a couple of our brands have added in recent seasons. I looked at that and a couple other colors that are close and settled on Thistle for our color chart. 

Okay, last question. I know you get asked this all the time - why don't we use the original colors from the brands?

Well, as much as a 30,000 color rainbow chart might be pretty, it would be a little hard to manage!


Here's a shot of Hana in action. Take a guess how many new colors will emerge from all those boxes!

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