Colour: The Finishing Touch

by Pantone View

Note: This article was republished from, Pantone’s new online color trend service, delivering critical color intelligence to creative professionals across all areas of design. For a free 30-day trial go to For more information click here.


With most brands holding back on major innovations in shapes and outsoles due to financial restrictions, colour, it seems, is still one of the main tools for standing out in the crowd, both for design and visual merchandising so far as the Bread & Butter, Premium and Capsule shows in Berlin indicated.



In footwear, the colour as such is just as important as the way it is applied. In fact, most luxury brands use intricate finish plans to stay ahead of the competition, knowing that such handmade finishing is almost impossible to achieve in low-cost production.

This is why many high-end Italian brands presented veg-tan leather in ultra rich earthy tones, applying subtle brushed multi-colour gradients and dip-dyed colour contrasts. We also found uni-colour white wash finishes applied all-over, including hardware like studs and nails.



Several major sports brands – such as Nike, Puma and Reebok – had apparently decided not to spend their budget on B&B, yet the sneaker brands that were showing largely focused on bold geometric colour blocking, especially for retro inspired styles with brogue or moccasin details.

Turning the whole shoe into one colour block, applying a single colour all-over, is also an option. Bright colour pops on classic looks are another big trend, which includes both the upper and the outsole. Sorel, for instance, presented an eye-catching collection that drastically reinterprets wellingtons, using brightly coloured heels. Newcomer Maison de Fous used pop colours to create subtle and humorous asymmetry within a pair.



For brands in the mid to lower price range – both sporty, casual and formal, we noticed a trend in luminescent and iridescent metallics, which can easily be translated in synthetics as well. Given the developments in textiles, we had expected more variety in prints and patterns, yet most brands focused primarily on ethnic looks, either modernized and geometric, like Adidas and Volta, or crafted and slightly ‘granola’, like Satorisan.