There’s a plethora of different things that may have contributed to the rise of ‘greige.’ Whether it’s the Kardashians, Instagram influencer culture, the divide in politics… Suffice to say it’s not one particular cause, rather each of them working in conjunction with one another that pushed this palette into the spotlight.
What’s more intriguing is why this palette is in vogue. In this era of social media and platforms of content now more readily available than ever, individualism as a movement is at an all-time high. If fashion, interior design, and aesthetics are all elements—as well as outputs—of self-expression, why are we pivoting to these muted shades and washed-out hues that are more likely to communicate rigidity and conformity?
British art historian James Fox, author of The World According to Colour, explains there is no such thing as a neutral colour: “Only what a given society agrees is neutral,” he says. “But if you step outside that society, or look back through history, you realise that everything is ideological in some ways; everything is a stylistic choice.”
Fox goes on to say “neutral” might be best understood as “dominant.” We see this as consistent in how grey began to displace bright whites and creams as the preferred palette for interiors in the late aughts to become as ubiquitous in the 2010’s as “magnolia”—a buttery yellow-based white shade of paint—was in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
But the origin of this wave of grey goes back through centuries of western culture; Goethe’s Theory of Colors, published in 1810, maintained that bright colours better suited children and animals versus sophisticated adults. Many great artists and thinkers throughout history from Aristotle and Plato to Le Corbusier and Cartier Bresson shared this view. Present today are the ideas that “lurid” and “garish” colours are to be viewed negatively. Artist David Batchelor, in his 2000 book Chromophobia, observes “Colour is often represented as feminine, or Oriental, or primitive, or infantile, rather than grown-up and philosophical and serious … and it’s clearly indexed to issues of race, culture, class and gender.”
The overall fascination for the ‘greige’ palette leans on practicality as its appeal: it’s a forgiving, multipurpose, seemingly less labour-intensive yet timeless counterpoint to colour families of higher saturation. But we return to Batchelor, vehemently opposed to neutrals and unpersuaded by the arguments for the subtle depth of ‘greige’: “You can have a colour chart that says ‘bland’ and stick it all under that,” he says with disdain. “It’s all so safe, that’s probably the most dispiriting part of it: it threatens nothing and no one, apart from with a slow, unadventurous death.”
As we move into the spring and summer seasons, however, we’re observing a small, quiet rebellion against the cool, steady safety that ‘greige’ had to offer. People are once again dipping their toes into the pool of colour. Perhaps we’re outgrowing the need for soothing and comfort from socio-political events and from the past pandemic?
With the run of their recent CONNECT collection in Paris, Rains uses musical and subcultural influences to explore colour in urban underground aesthetics. Urban Traveller & Co. is proud to offer the Spring Summer 2023 Collection which includes stand out pieces like the Spin Tote bag, Spin bag, and Spin Micro.
The Spin Tote Bag is a fun, circular tote bag with a half-circumference zip and vast main body main compartment, while the Spin and Spin Micro are crossbody and miniature bags respectively with a rigid dome-shaped shell, perfect for carrying small daily essentials.
All Rains bags feature their sturdy yet smooth water-resistant signature PU fabric, and come in a variety of colours.