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Pantone’s 2021 Color of the Year is Grey and Yellow — a Fitting Combo for the World at the Moment

Every year, Pantone releases a color of the year that aims to visually exemplify where we’re at and where society hopes to go in the new year. This color inspires growth and innovation in the design, apparel, beauty and fashion spaces — and overall sets the tone visually for whats to come. Pantone is a global authority in the color space and provider of the color language standards by which we all identify shades that define brands and visual aesthetics. The 2021 color of the year has been announced — and it’s Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating. Here’s what a swatch of each of those looks like.

pantone color of the year 2021

pantone color of the year 2021

It seems fitting that a color of the year for next year would be gray — the world is really going through it at the moment. But, I also love that they picked yellow as a complementary shade and mood balancer between the two because we are, at least it seems like, heading towards a more hopeful place.

The press release from Pantone explains that these are “two independent colors that come together to create an aspirational color pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day.”

Illuminating is a bright color filled with energy, which definitely captures how I think everyone hopes to feel as we bid farewell to 2020 and look forward towards new horizons.

“The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

“Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”

Well, there you have it. I think this choice is spot on for the current moment and I’m excited to see what the fashion, apparel, design and beauty spaces do with this information. For now, here are a few products you can don to sport this color combination heading into the new year.


Polo Ralph Lauren Washable Cashmere Sweater

ralph lauren cashmere sweater, pantone color of the year


Warby Parker Gilbert Eyeglasses

warby parker eyeglasses, pantone color of the year