Color trends come and go, but they remain useful tools for identifying an era. Any recent television series or music videos will be unofficially timestamped as 2016-2017 by the prevalence of ultra-neon colors (thanks Stranger Things). “Millenial pink” was a thing because mainstream newspapers needed a reason to talk about millennials some more, but it also represented a collapse of gendered coloring and a re-appropriation of overly feminized, unintellectual “pretty in pink.” Now that we can safely lay that to rest, it’s time to think about what color is gonna pop in 2018.
Basically, it’s called “Frozen Yellow” (name credit goes to Kanye West and his Calabasas collection) and it’s about to blow TF up.
If we look at one of the core trends of 2017 – nu-workwear – we can see how the codes of this aesthetic have bled into a pallet of industrial gray, workwear-blue and traffic cone orange. Case in point, the YEEZY Wave Runner 700.
As we drift away from traffic cone orange (shout-out to Gosha Rubchinskiy for releasing the orange hoodie we both wanted and needed) we enter the domain of Frozen Yellow. Futuristic, antagonizing and the antithesis to “clean” (we know it looks like nuclear urine okay?) we can see the color across various brands on both macro and micro levels, like the YEEZY laces above. Even BMW is into it.
To validate our inkling about the potential of this trend we spoke to Hannah Craggs, the Color Editor at WGSN. Using a combination of social science, deep insight and instinct, WGSN is a global network that can predict trends up to 24 months before they enter the retail space. It’s kind of alarming how accurate this trend forecasting can be, so we asked Hannah for her thoughts about why this pseudo-tennis ball color might be so appealing to consumers right now.
“Cropping up on my WGSN chroma radar from fall onwards has been yellow. Particularly for street and active markets, Frozen Yellow – a piercing near neon, with a strange and digital quality – it offers contrast and drama. Speaking of otherworldly, off-kilter themes and calling to mind sci-fi filters and hyper-human states.
This punchy color possesses an energetic spirit and delivers a seriously playful pop of character – cutting through expected mid-tones. As called out in WGSN’s Dark Wonder trend, the origin of this color is also linked to self-expression, with this bold hue becoming a direct call to action. The up trend I’m seeing in purer pigment in the fashion space overall reflects a desire for the truth and simple messaging.
Moving far beyond the mid-century craving created by Millennial Pink, instead, yellows offer a sense of warmth and honesty. Recent drops from Soulland, KITH and Martine Rose x Napapijri all demonstrate the appeal of these tones.”
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some recent pieces and collections proving the color is already seeping in to the zeitgeist.
Alexander Wang x adidas Originals
For Alexander Wang’s second collaboration with adidas Originals, Wang flipped the trefoil upside down and went against his preferred all-black aesthetic to deck his raver-inspired/cycling-gear collection in a furiously bright optic yellow.
One of the most divisive fashion moments of 2017, the Balenciaga platform Croc was debuted in pink and yep, garish yellow. Maybe everyone was so abhorred from the design that they didn’t clock the color trend. But if de facto engineer of hype Demna Gvasalia is into it, there’s probably a lot more to come.
SOPHNET. x Burton
Hyper-functional Japanese streetwear/casualwear brand SOPHNET. collaborated with American snowboard brand Burton to celebrate their 18th birthday. The maximalist capsule included parkas, T-shirts, fleece suits and er, a shovel. Similar to Alexander Wang, they went for full impact releasing a Frozen Yellow hooded jacket with reflective branding on the back.
Our Legacy FW17
Our Legacy dubbed their FW17 collection “Cosmic Cowboy” and the aesthetic was undeniably Western with cowhide boots, distressed denim, corduroy pants and cowboy-embellished shirts that even Drake wore. However, the Swedish brand elevated the look to a contemporary standard with just a hint of neon yellow peeking out under the T-shirt, proving that this color can be worn without shouting about it.
Palace x adidas Originals FW17
More recently, the highly-anticipated Palace x adidas Original FW17 collaboration utilized a black/Frozen Yellow colorway for its range of long-sleeve football-esque jerseys. The dual-branded sportswear capsule also threw it on the back of the waterproof jacket for a flash of branded color.
Tokyo Fashion Week 2017
Just a casual Frozen Yellow dye-job and shirt combination from our recent round-up of Tokyo fashion week.
Calabasas Season 2
Shot in Los Angeles (where else?) Yeezy’s dusty, lo-fi Calabasas zine (lensed by Jackie Nickerson) featured yellow Chevrolets, Frozen Yellow Calabasas shirts, caps, laces and an obvious inclusion of luminous road traffic signs.
So as we can see, the slightly jarring color (which registers at about 386U on Pantone’s color chart) is already emerging as the go-to color choice, but first, we really need to talk about Kanye West.
Kanye has clearly seen the potential for this hazardous shade of yellow to make waves and he’s touched on it before. For YEEZY Season 3, he presented a series of shearling jackets in “Sun God,” a pre-cursor to the more hazardous shade we’re seeing today.
Yeezy Season 6 Desert Rat 500s
Circumventing the New York Fashion Week circuit, Kanye released the highly ridiculed Desert Rat 500 in a “Super Moon Yellow” colorway for Season 6 of YEEZY. While quite different to the shades of electric yellow we’ve seen earlier, this pale, sepia-esque “super moon” shade of yellow does lend itself to the orthopaedic, “ugly,” ’90s design as flexed by Kim Kardashian above (although she calls them ‘Mud Rats’).
The next super moon is scheduled for some time in early 2018, so, unless Kanye is leaving some astrological breadcrumbs for us to follow for his next drop, we can assume this is Kanye further playing around with yellow for Season 6, which featured a very neutral palette across the board.
Now, why is Kanye West wanting to fuck with Frozen Yellow so bad?
History tells us that this is a man with a penchant for all-or-nothing color favoritism, this Highsnobiety article delineates his obsession with Burgundy in YEEZY Season 5 and cites some Mark Rothko paintings as possible inspiration. A quick scan of Kanye’s recent timeline suggests that on this occasion, Kanye’s access point may have something to do with his interminable beef with Nike.
Nike has actually had a monopoly on this color for some time. Although they call it “Volt,” it’s synonymous with the brand, available in a full range of workout gear, as well as the Nike Air Max and Nike Hyperdunk being released in a brazen all-over Volt colorway.
With most of the world watching, Nike even debuted its game-changing Flyknit technology at the 2012 Olympics in the Swoosh’s beloved green-yellow hybrid. They’re proud of it for sure. For Kanye to harbor this color for his new collection, and indeed, frame the aesthetic of the entire Calabasas season around it, is a resounding echo of “shots fired” and fair play to him, “Nike, Nike, treat employees just like slaves” (“Facts,” The Life of Pablo, 2016).
At risk of over-analysis, Vincent Van Gogh is one of the few artists who is well-known for his use of yellow, and his oft-discussed mental health struggles make for an interesting, if uncomfortable parallel to Kanye West.
As troubled as he was gifted, Van Gogh was rumored to have actually eaten yellow paint in a bid to feel what happiness could be like. It’s dramatic, but we can all agree that everyone should be free to do whatever they need to in order to feel better sometimes. If adopting Nike’s signature color and absorbing it into his own brand is what Kanye must to do to feel better then who are we to challenge that? This is Kanye’s version of eating yellow paint and it’s Nike who will be left with the bad taste.
Frozen Yellow is alarming, possibly toxic, and the perfect color to tint our collective anxiety about threats of nuclear war, socio-political unrest, whether or not Kanye West is going to be okay, and it looks fucking sick.
- Main & Featured image: Kanye West's Calabasas Zine