Who Chooses the Pantone Color of the Year?

Pantone has for 25 years convened a group of global color analysts to select the shade that will perfectly sum up the year ahead.

A velvety and gentle peach. Sensitive but sweet and airy. Softly nestled between pink and orange. This is how Pantone is describing “Peach Fuzz,” its 2024 color of the year.

Various peach-colored items, including paint swatches and a hair clip, laid out on a white table
“Peach Fuzz” is Pantone’s 25th annual Color of the Year. MICHAEL MARQUAND/Pantone

The subtle shade is the company’s 25th Color of the Year. Beginning in 1999, Pantone has announced an annual color that sums up the mood of the year ahead. The program is the brainchild of the Pantone Color Institute, the company’s color forecasting division established in 1986 to help brands from Tiffany to Schweppes establish custom shades.

Over the past two and a half decades, Pantone has held meetings to help choose its annual color. Hosted in a European capital city, the gatherings constitute “a secret meeting of representatives from various nations’ color standards groups,” according to the company.

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Despite the program’s popularity, the decision-makers behind Pantone’s Color of the Year, who meet in white-walled rooms to avoid any accidental influence over color discussions, remain largely anonymous. “I can’t tell you the names,” David Shah, a publisher and designer who runs the meetings, told WNYC in 2011. “They’re involved with everything from furniture through to clothing and knitwear.”

The final decision doesn’t immediately come out of these formal meetings. “It is one long, continuously flowing conversation among a group of color-atoned people,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, in a recent blog post. “To arrive at the selection each year, our team of color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences,” she said. Selections can be influenced by everything from trends in the entertainment industry to emerging lifestyles and upcoming sporting events.

What is the purpose of Pantone’s Color of the Year?

This year, the world’s color authorities chose a soothing tone in response to global turmoil. “An idea as much as a feeling, PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz awakens our senses to the comforting presence of tactility and cocooned warmth,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a statement. Peach Fuzz’s predecessor Viva Magenta, meanwhile, was chosen in 2023 as a reflection of new technologies like artificial intelligence and the metaverse.

The selection process isn’t always simple. In 2016, Pantone chose two colors—the pink Rose Quartz and blue Serenity—to make a statement about gender fluidity. Its 2022 selection of the periwinkle Veri Peri, which represented transition and unexpected solutions, marked the first time the company created an entirely new shade from scratch.

Meanwhile, Cerulean Blue was the inaugural Pantone Color of the Year, introduced a quarter of a century ago to ring in the new millennium. The shade was memorably featured in a scene in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, during which Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly delivers a monologue that touches on how color forecasting affects the fashion industry.

Pantone’s program has become an influential force over the past quarter century, with the annual selection coinciding with the launch of brand partnerships across fashion and technology. Peach Fuzz, for example, will be available as an option in next year’s Motorola phones, and consumers will encounter it in lipstick shades and home decor. Selected hues often appear in products beyond brands’ official partnerships with Pantone, as the Color of the Year tends to drive trends.

Since its inception, “we have seen this program influence product development and purchasing decisions in nearly every industry and country around the world,” said Pressman. “Growing in popularity each year, its impact is felt across fashion, color cosmetics, home furnishings, automotive and industrial design, as well as product, packaging, multimedia design, and commercial interiors.”

Who Chooses the Pantone Color of the Year?