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Ryan Stanley Talks Color Software

This past year Kristen and Ryan Stanley, Senior Director of Color at PVH Corp, have participated in a series of panel discussions hosted by Shoshana Burgett of ColorKarma. These discussions centered around color, with Kristen speaking from a design perspective and Ryan from a science perspective. As a designer, Kristen works with color daily and was fascinated to learn more from Ryan about how he works with color. In particular, how does a company the size of PVH Corp work to bring a product from concept to production? Additionally, how do they use technology to make sure the colors designers want are the colors ultimately produced?

Ryan Stanley shared three areas in which software helps to work with color effectively.

From his position as a textile chemist, Ryan thinks about color as data. “As far as my work is concerned, a color doesn’t exist unless there are dyes and chemicals to execute it reliably, repeatably, globally, and for whatever brand I’m working with.” Consequently, his team uses different software for different steps of the process.

Color Evaluation Software

Color evaluation software connects to a spectrometer. This software analyzes color and is the most effective way to gather data about it. It quickly and easily looks at color and evaluates reflectance curves. With this information, a color team can then compare colors together digitally in groups and look at color purely in terms of numbers and data. Relying on the human eye to interpret color is removed from the equation. The result is precise numbers conducive to replicating color without personal interpretation.

Examples: Datacolor, IQC, Natific

Color Visualization Software

Color visualization software is useful in the design stage. This software looks at color and interprets the data about it across different materials. In other words, these tools function “like a virtual light booth.” With a good color visualization tool, one can upload a scanned material and apply color data from the color evaluation software to generate a visual for how that color looks across different materials. For example, it will help you get the color red from a woven, flannel cotton fabric translated as the same red onto a knit, polyester fabric.

Examples: Datacolor Envision, Color Digital, Color Insights

Color Execution Software

Color execution software is useful to manufacturers. They are “software that allows for global communication of digital color to particular tolerances in an effort to get the mill or vendor to execute exactly what we want.” Once the color team and design team complete all the work, the final product must be the exact color these teams planned. No longer is it necessary for companies to ship color standards from design to production. Now, they communicate that information digitally. Companies such as Natific even independently certify mills and vendors in their software. As a result, brands know they are working with a qualified manufacturer. In the end, their color will match within their standard data.

Examples: Natific, Color Digital

A wrong color costs a brand time and money.

Working with color used to rely heavily on human eyes. Yet, that is incredibly difficult to manage on a large scale. People see color differently because human eyes are not a perfect tool. Material, light, even age, affect what they see. Therefore, with appropriate color software, brands have more control over color and can reproduce it accurately from design right up to production.

Do you want to learn more about color? Watch Ryan Stanley and Kristen Dettoni talk to ColorKarma about the importance of viewing colors under the right light.  

Thanks so much to Ryan for talking with us!

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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