Swatch Color Issues

How nuts is the color issue? Figure I’d offer a glimpse.

Let’s start with the Executive satchel brief. Here’s a photo from the ad campaign as reference. We made the first prototype of the Executive in a brilliant red.

Carolina modeling the Executive in red, from our first batch of samples. We then tried the Executive in more subdued colors.

I thought the Executive in stone taupe might be a nice neutral offering, especially for those who may find red to be too bold. Here’s a preview of the Executive in “stone taupe,” a photo taken by the manufacturer and sent to me for proofing:

Based on that photo only, how would you describe the color? Beige, right?

Here is a page from the production briefs I sent to the manufacturer:

Nevermind that contrast stitching was used on the Executive satchel when thread color should have matched the material color. (Note the instructions above in the brief.) Let’s just focus on color issues for now. I envisioned a gray color; hence, I drew a gray bag in the above brief. But the photo proof from the manufacturer shows a bag more beigey than gray.

The above is a photo from the swatchbook that I took. The photo shows the material to be more beigey than gray. However, and you’ll have to trust me on this, in person the swatch is gray. Not beigey.

I selected this “19″ color based on looking at the actual material in person, an actual swatchbook I held in my hand, and selected it with the assumption that the swatch is gray, or grayish. Yet both the photo of the swatch and the photo of the “stone taupe” Executive is beigey.

As you can see, it’s hard for me to proof the bag based on the proofing photos, but that’s pretty much what I have to go on because the manufacturer and I are located on different continents. So I’m left to wonder: like my own photo of the swatch, does it just happen to be more beigey than gray and in real life will be gray once it’s been shipped to me? Or is it simply beigey and I have been deceived by my own eyes?

What do I tell prospective customers? Do I call this bag gray? Or beige? When I look at this color in person, it’s gray, so I want to describe the color to you as gray. But every photo of the material comes out looking beige. The photos you’ll see online of this bag will look beige to you. You’ll see the photo, see that the bag is beige, and then see the color description of it as “Gray.” You’ll think I’m nuts. Yet I promise you this color is gray.  So what do I do? How do I describe it?

Heidi modeling the first prototype of the Peripatetic weekender, in soft pink.

For the Peripatetic weekender tote, I wanted to offer the style in cream, with dark brown contrasting accents. Based on touching and looking at actual swatches, I selected the above two colors. The main color would be the “22,” a cream, and the accents, such as the base of the weekender, would be “16,” a chocolate brown. Here’s an illustration based on that vision:

And here’s a proofing photo from the manufacturer:

Sorta, but not really. Right?

That’s a back view of the Peripatetic weekender. It’s pretty cute. I like it. But I don’t know how to describe the color. Plus, if you scroll back up to the Executive proofing photos, it looks like this Peripatetic is the same color as the Executive pictured above. But not so, or at least it shouldn’t be so. The Executive should be gray. This Peripatetic weekender should be a cream color with chocolate accents.

Above is a back view of the Peripatetic weekender, in a purple gray color. In my head, this color was distinguishably different from the cream. I mean, purple gray…cream. Purple gray…cream. And yet looking at the cream photo compared to the purple gray photo, the differences are negligible. Odd.

Now look at a photograph of the purple gray swatch color:

That above “13″ color should be the color of the purple gray Peripatetic. The accent should be a sheeny black. See below (again, back view of the Peripatetic bag). Colors of the actual purple gray bag look totally different from the colors of the swatches. I like the subdued color of “13″ pictured in the swatch at bottom right. I’m not such a fan of the purple gray color depicted on the photo to the bottom left. So in other words, the discrepancy is a big deal. Right one, I like. Left one, I don’t. But it’s supposed to be the same darn color.

We also tried the Peripatetic weekender in all black, but Hubby doesn’t like it. He prefers the two-toned Peripatetic bags. I’m debating whether to mass produce the all-black Peripatetic, or whether this bag should only come two-toned, as Hubby suggests.

Oh by the way, the Peripatetic weekender tote comes with the below-pictured wristlet clutch. (The accompanying wristlet clutches will be in the same color as the totes.) For example, the below photos are of the wristlet clutch in black, to be paired with the Peripatetic in all black (pictured directly above).

The more I look at it though, the more I think this wristlet clutch would be paired better with the Workaholic shoulder tote. I should switch out the wristlet clutch I have paired with the Workaholic now with this one, and use that to go with the Peripatetic. (If you haven’t been following this blog, then you probably have no clue what I’m talking about right now…)

Wristlet clutch originally paired with the Workaholic shoulder tote. May switch this one out with the above pictured wristlet clutch, the one with the three wraparound zippers. It complements the Workaholic way better.

Speaking of the Workaholic…

I really lilke this “25″ color for the Workaholic. This color is different from the cream color selected for the above-pictured Peripatetic and different from the gray/beige color selected for the above-pictured Executive. And yet…

Doesn’t the color of the Workaholic bag in the above photo look just like the color of the Executive and the Peripatetic? I promise these are 3 totally different colors. Different textured materials even.

(Please note: When you buy Taryn Zhang bags, they won’t come with the paper hangtag you see in the preceding photo. We’ll have pretty, glossy, well-designed hangtags for you. these white paper tags are for internal office labeling purposes only.)

And there’s a view of the back of the Workaholic shoulder tote. As a reference, here’s the original prototype of the Workaholic, in black:

First prototype of the Workaholic shoulder tote, in black.

No, the above shots of the bags are not in grayscale. They are in color. Can you believe it? And below each is a photo of the swatch color and the tentative name I’m giving each shade. Commercially, how am I ever going to convey to you the actual colors of these bags? Sigh.

In any case, as you can see we’re moving right along with production. Timing wise, we’re still on schedule for release in Spring 2011.

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  • Sherri

    When they were cutting the material couldn’t they tell all the bags were looking the same. That aside I’m excited for the launch, have you thought about price points yet?

    Happy Thanksgiving

  • Jujuwa514

    I don’t think you’re crazy at all! After reading the entire post and looking through all the colors, sadly I got quite confused also because of the similarities of all the colors. They all appear some shade of gray and surprisingly not like the original swatches.. What will you do..?

    Oh and Happy Thanksgiving weekend (us Canadians had it a few weeks ago lol)

  • AppleSidra

    Well the “good” (or slightly more heartening) news is that the manufacturer probably took the photos in dim lighting and not in very high resolution, and certainly not with a DSLR camera. I’m sure once I get these bags in my hands, we adjust the lighting, and use a better quality camera, the color display will be better. =)

  • AppleSidra

    Oooh yes– the prices are on the “Shop” page already. Go here: Click into any category, say, “Creative.” Click on a bag, say the Workaholic. For example: Price points are there. =)

  • Betty Faith

    this is crazy. they’re definitely not the colors that you’re trying to describe the bags as, as the manufacturer has. *smh*

  • Hanna

    This is so interesting to me since I graduated from a color science degree in college. There are a large vast of reasons why color swatches don’t exactly match with the final product. Reason A- Color swatches are not made by the same manufacturer. If you chose color number 22, that can translate into 5 different colors depending on the company. Companies usually try to save money by using a universal color swatch. Reason B-Lighting. Quite surprising but colors can change drastically depending on what kind of lighting it is being placed under. Fluorescent light adds extra blue and daylight adds a variety of color including yellow and blue. Reason C- the color swatches are old. Companies will hold onto color swatches for years and they usually have them hang out in the open. Color swatches can fade and change color as they age.

    So the verdict? I think you should describe exactly as you see in the final product. You see beige but the picture looks more stone like? Leave a disclaimer in my opinion.

  • tz

    Wow Hanna, thank you so much for your comment! It helped a lot, and gave me greater perspective. I did NOT know that the swatch is manufactured by someone different from my fabric source! First, that explains a lot. Second, that’s kind of messed up!!! >:-O Can’t they just cut out a sliver from the actual material, glue it together to make the swatchbook? =)

    Anyway. Yes, once I get the actual samples of the purses in my hands, I’ll write the descriptions based solely off that, of course. The purpose of this post was just to wander and ramble out loud why the color issue has to be so difficult! =)

    Hope to be hearing more from you in the future! You rock!!

  • tz

    Sigh, yeah, I think it’s the lighting in that room @ the manufacturer’s place. Look at any and all the pics from the manufacturer. It’s all grayish. So (hopefully!) it’s just a lighting issue!!

  • The Versastyle

    i love how you describe your process… but I totally know your feeling on the colors and its issues.. story of my life too. Grey is seriously in the grey zone..

  • Asiancajuns (Cath)

    How frustrating! The bags look gorgeous, but I don’t know what the answer is to how you convey the color. Can you get a graphic designer to alter the online photos to have better color matches?

  • Emma Yamada

    Wow, I don’t mean to repeat but this is very frustrating for you I am sure. Hopefully things will work out soon. Sorry I have been a bad commenter lately, just so busy with the Holidays.

  • Catwalq

    If I could have the Peripatetic in the “stone taupe”, I think I would die happy.
    Where do you manufacture? I thought you used to sew everything yourself? Do you sew the prototype only? Also, what software do you use for the graphics?
    Off to the main website to surf for a purse to give as a gift

  • tz

    Also if you want to order, contact me privately at swoan [at] tarynzhang [dot] com. We’ll work something out! ;-)

  • tz

    Catwalq: Go/come back to BWW! We miss you so much! We manufacture in Hong Kong. There was a brief time when I sewed everything, but I’m a bit of a crappy seamstress. =( The software? We use the uber-sophisticated, high-tech, hoity toity, ultra-glam MS Paint. That’s right. Paint! That free program that comes bundled on all computers these days. That’s what we use because we’re cheap Asians and don’t want to spend hundreds even thousands on a REAL designer software program. =P

  • tz

    Preparing a spectacular holiday for the children is MOST important! Focus on that first! =D

  • tz

    Haha thanks! Yes, grey is blah. Grey is one of those colors you think should be offered but actual styles in grey for some reason keep on coming out looking blah. Sigh. I’ll figure something out.

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