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We recognize color is important to our customers. Let’s examine color in more detail.

What is color?

Color is the perception of three factors: reflected light expressed as hue, lightness, and saturation.

Colors are classified as Red, Yellow, Green, or Blue or any of the intermediates between any two of the above contiguous pairs. Hue is the gradation between colors.

Lightness is the dimension of the color of an object by which the object appears to reflect more or less of the incident light.

Saturation is the degree of difference from a neutral gray for a color having the same lightness. Sometimes described as the purity of the color.

How does the human eye interpret color?

To see color, three things must be present: light, an object, and an observer. Light bounces off the object and is perceived by the observer as a color, whether magenta, maize, or mauve.

But how do we see different colors? Several things can influence how we see color including a variation in the source of the light, a variation in the object itself, or a variation in the observer.

A variation in light source: Changes in the light source can significantly affect color. It can mean the difference between a soft cantaloupe on a store rack or a burnt orange in the midday sun. When viewing color, a specific light source should be specified. Common light sources include Daylight 65 (D65), TL 84, Cool White Fluorescent (CWF) and Incandescent A.

A variation in the object: For garments or other sewn products, such changes typically include differences in the dyes used, differences in the material composition of the objects and differences in fabric construction.

A variation in the observer: Many distinct factors can influence or change an observer’s color perception. These changes can be due to health factors and medications, mood, emotions or fatigue, inherent differences between two different observers, and the environment in which the colors are observed.

Color Measurement

To assist in quantifying color differences, measurement systems have been developed. By assigning each color a location in color space, we can measure in real numbers the difference between two colors. There are numerous color spaces available, but the most common for textile applications are CIE L*a*b* and CMC.

Benefits of Color Measurement

In addition to converting object colors to real numbers to quantify color differences, color measurement facilitates color consistency, color matching, and color communication. Speed, accuracy, and feedback are core components to success.

Further, the global supply requirements of the sewn product market require the instantaneous communication of color formulas and standards from one side of the world to the other. Color measurements allow for this data to be transmitted exactly where it needs to be, right on time.

Common Color Misconceptions

Dye lots can be perfect matches: In reality each dye lot has a color “fingerprint” that makes each lot unique. While there may be no perceptible color difference to a trained eye, there are color differences that can be measured on every dye lot for any dyeing process.

All colors are achievable on all fibers: Due to the actual chemistry used in dye synthesis, there are limited ranges of colors that can be achieved on each type of dyed fiber. These ranges are different from fiber to fiber, for example cotton and polyester.

The color of an object never changes: To see color, there must be three components, an object, a light source, and an observer. Changes in any of these three can cause a color to be seen differently.  Specifically relating to light, there is a phenomena of color inconstancy where an object changes its color simply by being moved to a different type of light. If two colors match in one light source, but due to color inconstancy of one or both of the objects, the same colors do not match under a different light source, this phenomenon is called metamerism.

For more information on A&E thread color, contact us at +1.704.951.2996 or at and connect with our color experts.





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