WGSN - Buyers’ Briefing A/W 21/22: Womenswear Colour
Strategic colour choices have never been more crucial in winning over a vulnerable and cost-conscious consumer. Ensure you are focused on their non-negotiable priorities – sustainability, protection, comfort and optimism – and leverage colour to provide solutions 
Laura Yiannakou
11.30.20 · 7 minutes
Tiziano Guardini
Action points

From de-risking underperforming categories to building on sustainability strategies, use colour to provide solutions in a rapidly evolving womenswear market.


Pandemic and economic uncertainty is causing risk-averse black, dark brown and neutrals to thrive

Backed by WGSN's social media, retail and catwalks data, darker shades appeal to consumers who are increasingly scrutinising new purchases with a cost-per-wear mindset. Confident merchandising is crucial in demonstrating how these 'forever' shades can transcend seasons and interchange with other wardrobe staples on a modular level


De-risk suffering formalwear categories with dialled-down colour choices

The pandemic has accelerated womenswear's move towards prioritising casualisation, so it's a no-brainer to scale back on occasion and tailoring deliveries. Dial-down dressy items with colours more traditionally associated with casualwear, such as olive green, and merchandise them alongside denim and sneakers, as the importance of hi-lo styling continues


Think natural; eco-anxious shoppers are increasingly attentive to the environmental impact of dyes

Explore naturally derived colour methods. Invest in understanding dyestuffs from food waste, work with global dye suppliers to scale up natural dye production and move away from bleaching while investing in natural raw state colours


Restorative colour is important as shoppers turn to radical optimism in a disruptive climate

Invest in brights that feel invigorating, but ensure they are versatile and work hard to complement the core colours of the season.  Smoked Paprika and Butter will reassure and uplift due to their cosy, warm and optimistic connotations, while bold blue and berry accents will resonate with consumers looking to make 'above-the-keyboard' statements


Uniform-like dressing in the form of head-to-toe black is emerging strongly via social media styling, due to the increase of consumers embracing concepts of de-materialisation and limitarianism.

Apparel with timeless, modular attributes has never been more important, so embrace the seasonless appeal of black to de-risk challenged categories such as occasionwear and tailoring. This will transform formal styles into more versatile, hardworking items that demonstrate value per wear.

Black can also be used to elevate the cut-and-sew category. Apply to jersey slounge dresses, loungewear and nightwear – categories that will remain robust during and post-pandemic.


Key categories: #matchingset, loungewear, dresses, nightwear, lingerie

Key drops: all deliveries
WGSN confirmation: Womenswear Forecast A/W 21/22: Phantasmagoria: Hardcore Biker and Modern Goth stories

L'Officiel Russia

Follow #noir and #blackwithblack on the Fashion Feed


Increasing steadily over three years, black held the largest share of the colour mix (29%, +2ppts) on the S/S 21 catwalks


Mix and match black textures to capitalise on the importance of tactility in a comfort-first climate

Soap nut

Carrying over from S/S 21, #soapnut continues to pick up pace, as a variety of established designers, including Chloé and Christian Dior, back the shade on the latest catwalks.

Soap Nut has plenty of commercial growth opportunity; it offers a richer take on popular coral pink, but its warm undertones are based on baked terracotta hues.

Much like Pumpkin and cinnamon tones, Soap Nut will resonate with a customer looking for cosy reassurance in a volatile climate.


Key categories: knitwear, loungewear, tailoring, outerwear, sleepwear, lingerie

Key drops: transitional, autumn

WGSN confirmation: A/W 21/22 Colour Forecast

Sustainability: Soap Nut can be achieved through natural sources including avocado, sappan bark and coconut husk


Romantic and feminine, Soap Nut also works well for kidswear. Explore this shade for mini-me opportunities


Create merchandising impact via tonal shades of Soap Nut

Jil Sander

WGSN Beauty arms you with the right information, at the right time, to develop your next generation of instant-hit and long-term hero products.

Berry accents

In a risk-averse climate, autumnal brights such as berry tones should clearly demonstrate how they can work as accents that complement core staples within consumers' everyday wardrobes.

Avoid flat, head-to-toe looks and instead layer berry tones with the season’s core black, neutral and cinnamon tones – this will enhance wearability and reassure the customer.

There is an opportunity to test everyday core items such as the crombie coat or the knitted sweater in brighter shades to bring newness, but in a low-key way.


Key categories: knitwear, cut-and-sew, woven tops, statement outerwear and tailoring pieces
Key drops: transitional, autumn
WGSN confirmation: Womenswear Colour Trend Concept A/W 21/22: Crimson, Electric Magenta and Plum Pie 

Mario Dice

Use berry tones to enhance texture and details, as seen at Taller Marmo


For merchandising, take a tonal approach to outfit building, which will bring an elevated feel to key looks


Leading colour influencer Roksanda is a great go-to example for commercial colour building


Look out for accents of A/W 22/23 Key Colour Orchid Flower – it's beginning to emerge in the luxury market. Use to create contrast and impact for Christmas deliveries

Enriched neutrals

Neutrals continue to perform well, as comfort and sustainability remain non-negotiable fashion drivers for the long term. Newness comes through depth of tone and darker brown variations.

S/S 21's Undyed, Camel and Terracotta tones evolve and grow across categories for A/W. Continue to position neutrals as 'forever' shades and demonstrate via merchandising how they can transcend seasons and interchange with other pieces on a modular level.


Key categories and drops: all deliveries

Sustainability: the fundamental focus on undyed yarns and colour-grown fibres remains paramount

WGSN social media data: neutrals have shown steady growth since October 2018, rising by 9%, 12% to now 15% YoY in October 2020. Growth is driven by mass (+20%) and conservative (+17%) segments, led by the wide popularity of comfortwear trends


WGSN retail data: new-in volumes of natural, unbleached tones +19% UK, +21% US YoY. Taupe is also +29% UK, +41% US YoY

Steel blue

Showing increased growth via WGSN's social media and retail data, #steelblue will continue to strengthen its presence in retail, thanks to its versatility across all categories.

Steel Blue evolves the slightly brighter #puristblue shade we've seen dominate the space since S/S 20. This greyed-off tone is less of a statement bright and instead trades on its transseasonal appeal by lending a calming, comfort-enhancing lift to #abovethekeybooarddressing tops and #stayhomestyle loungewear.


Key categories: denim, loungewear, knitwear, cut-and-sew, woven tops

Key drops: transitional, autumn, Christmas gifting

WGSN retail data: new-in volumes of greyish blue arise across all categories globally, especially bottoms (UK and US), tops (UK) and dresses (US)


Pale blue +68% UK, +39% US

driven by trend retailers +124% UK, +109% US YoY


Use Steel Blue to evolve evergreen print trends, from #tiedye to #watercolour


Steel Blue lends a calming, comfort factor to lounge and sleepwear styles

Camilla and Marc

Steel Blue rises by 25% YoY (July-Oct 2020 vs 2019) across social media, demonstrating its winning appeal with the youth demographic

Christopher Esber

Steel Blue will be key in updating the #knittedset looks currently uptrending on the Fashion Feed and across retail


Steel Blue works year-round as a core colour for denim bottoms


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