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Kinds of Blue: Reflections on our London Craft Week Webinar

Posted 14.10.20

What do you think about the colour blue? What does it make you feel? Why do we say we’re ‘feeling blue’? And why is blue associated with boys, whereas girls get the colour pink?

When Turnbull & Asser approached me to moderate a webinar conversation designed to pose questions like these to a panel of experts, I realised that I didn’t have the foggiest. Colour is one of those miraculous things in life that is all too easy to take for granted. It’s all around us, after all; an integral part of how we view the world and each other. So, to spend some time really thinking about the value of the colour blue and its place in our society was an absolutely fascinating experience.

The panellists involved were Caroline Till, Andrew Pierre Hart, and Turnbull’s very own creative director, Becky French. Each brought a different, complementary perspective to the conversation, and it wasn’t long before we were all nattering away together – after opening remarks, an hour sped by in what felt like fifteen minutes.

Caroline is a colour theorist and trend forecaster by profession, and the agency she co-founded in 2010, Franklin Till, specialises in the analysis of colour for global consumer and luxury brands. She joined the webinar with a wealth of curious knowledge, consumer research and surprising statistics to hand. It transpires that since the start of recorded research in the 18th century, blue has consistently proven itself to be among the most popular colours on the planet, with different communities, countries and demographics all citing it as a firm favourite.

Theories differ as to why this is, but Caroline thinks that blue’s popularity relates to its scarcity in the natural world – and therefore its association with all things precious or rare. Andrew agreed. A multi-disciplinary, award-winning artist, who specialises in the relationship between painting and sound, Andrew’s perspective on the colour blue was equal parts sensitive and insightful. As he rightly pointed out, thinking of blue as a singular colour is reductive, given there are over 260 ‘official’ shades in circulation today. Like Caroline, Andrew noted that in the art world true blue lapis lazuli pigment has always been extremely expensive to source, which reinforces blue’s identity as a rarified colour.

He also touched on the multiplicity of ways we see blue in different contexts. In nature, blue is associated with the sea, sky and a sense of freedom, but humankind tends to gravitate towards ‘feeling blue’, with jazz music, in particular, using the colour to communicate melancholic moods and emotions. To Andrew, certain midnight blues also create a mysterious, almost mystical feeling; something he enjoys channelling in much of his work.

Of course, the origin of the conversation lay in the importance of colour to Turnbull & Asser, a brand which has long been known for its confident use of colour and pattern. Becky talked us through how Turnbull shapes its colour palettes each season and the wealth of archive material which the design team refer back to in designing new collections. She also explored the ubiquity of blue in menswear; it’s long-term presence in denim, tailoring and of course shirtmaking too. At Turnbull, blue becomes a useful framework against which other colours can be foregrounded – a reliable through-note that grounds each collection. It seems that blue remains the quintessential foundation for men’s wardrobes today.

If you missed the webinar, which was hosted in association with London Craft Week last week, we hope you’ll enjoy watching it back here, and that you find it every bit as fascinating as we did.





Aleks Cvetkovic

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