Justin Bieber in “Peaches” (2021)

EVERY DECEMBER, the industry-appointed colour gods at Pantone announce the mood for the year ahead, in the form of a single (or sometimes dual) hue. For 2023, Pantone’s colour of the year was Viva Magenta 18, a red-based shade the colour of overripe raspberries, which Pantone says recognised “a new signal of strength”, was “rebellious” and “audacious”. And, oh my god, if there was one thing we needed to get through this year it was strength, because 2023 did not go as planned and it definitely came with a big serve of audacity. So, on the money, Pantone; well done, we salute you. 

However, when it comes to the 2024 appointment, I am not so sure….In fact. I am absolutely convinced that Pantone itself was living on another planet. Because, this year’s colour is Peach Fuzz, a retro-tinged, soft pink-orange hue that evokes an aesthetic of French Champagne, vintage silks and beauty industry marketing mood boards. According to the Pantone Color Institute, the delicate hue is a show of the human experience and reminds us to consider health and wellness for our mind, body, and soul—it is supposed to remind us of human connection, kindness and compassion. “In seeking a hue that echoes our innate yearning for closeness and connection, we chose a colour radiant with warmth and modern elegance,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “A shade that resonates with compassion, offers a tactile embrace, and effortlessly bridges the youthful with the timeless.” What a marketing chef’s kiss.

Just to recap where the world is at: We are looking down the barrel of a climate catastrophe where every scientific agency has said we’ve just hit the accelerator on hitting the 1.5-degree raised global temperature. There are tens of devastating conflicts happening around the world causing countless deaths—including those of children and civilians—which are broadcast onto our feeds daily, making us feel helpless, angry and frustrated. We are burned out by on-demand 24-hour-seven-days-a-week lifestyles. We are increasingly trying to find our feet while attempting to process a rising feeling of uncertainty. Things are not great on a global scale right now. And with a straight face, we’re being told that 2024’s essence in colour form is that of a moisturiser marketed to 1950s housewives. It’s giving The Great Gatsby. It’s giving Karen. It’s giving privilege.


Normally, I would have just ranted to friends and moved on. I know it’s not that deep. But there was something about this statement, the colour and the way it has been explained that got under my skin. At a time when humanity is searching for new ways to feel understood, where many of us are tired of our simple joys being yassified by corporations, we are seeking ways to stick our feet in the sand, feel grounded and be seen for it, this move just felt so relentlessly commercial. And despite the hue also occurring in nature as a beautiful ochre found in our very backyard, the shade itself is commercially coded, and colour theory matters. Remember what happened to Millennial Pink? 

When we look at the world around us, taking the temperate of culture in colour form is an interesting game to play. 2024 could be a naturally occurring red, signalling our collective rage, which is not going anywhere soon. 2024 will see many of us sustain our fury at power, manage our grief and express anger at the status quo in newly expressive (and hopefully healthier) ways. So a deep, dried, blood-red would be perfect. Or, what about a slate blue-grey? We know that digital fatigue is leading a lot of us to look beyond the screen for new hobbies, which include more tactile pastimes and touch-centric activities, and that would be a calming tone. A sandy, muddy, earthy light brown might speak to the importance of recognising and protecting First Nations cultures, reminding us of the harm caused by environmental devastation and nodding to our desire for grounding. A blue-based green that symbolises freedom and reduces our anxieties would also work—and it wouldn’t feel too digital, commercial or authoritarian. 

My inner doomer and dark sense of humour did bring me to another thought that takes us into 2024— maybe the colour experts at Pantone are actually cynical realists? A commercial peach tone with a “cosy sensibility brings people together” isn’t the colour we need, but the one we deserve. Maybe it is the perfect metaphor. Because in these times, where many of those in power are not using it for good, where we are encouraged to add-to-cart, indulge in ourselves or use self-care as a modern-day cope, sometimes it really does feels like we are all just licking the inside of a champagne saucer while the ship goes down. Peachy.  


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