Fashion, Home + Interiors - SMART Color System FAQs

SMART Color System

frequently asked questions

Why did Pantone re-engineer their system?

Answer: Technical advancements in today’s marketplace inspired us to redesign our PANTONE FASHION+HOME Color System. We designed our new SMART System to meet the “Speed to Market”, “Lower Color Management Costs”, and “Higher Color Quality at Point of Sale” requirements that are necessary in today’s global market. We engineered our new standards for optimum consistency, commercial reproduction, and exceptional performance characteristics.

How long has it taken Pantone to create the SMART system?

Answer: This was a painstaking process that has taken over 2 years to complete. We dyed hundreds of lab dips to develop each color and only moved to dye the fabric for our SMART standards when the dyestuff combinations were clearly reproducible across multiple lab and production equipment.

What are the most important aspects of the partnership with Clariant International, one of the world’s largest textile colorant and chemical producers?

Answer: There are many benefits that result from this partnership.

  • Pantone/Clariant dye formulations result in consistent, reproducible color that will allow dye mills to dramatically reduce color development lead times.

  • The Pantone/Clariant formulations use globally available dyestuffs, which means that your mills will have local access to them no matter where they are located.

  • Pantone/Clariant SMART formulations employ carefully selected dyestuff combinations that provide excellent lightfastness, as well as durability to washing, dry cleaning, and wear. Of course, dyeing conditions very drastically, so you should always test your dyestuff recipe to insure it is meeting your specific requirements.

If my vendor is having a problem matching a Pantone SMART color, is technical support available to help them?

Answer: Pantone/Clariant take pride in offering on-line color matching at , in-plant technical support for color matching, and spectral data to minimize the color development timeline. If a vendor is having difficulty matching your color, Clariant’s application experts can step in and help make your color inspiration a production reality. Thousands of dyestuff and chemical application experts are ready and waiting to help match your color. Visit to find contact information for the Clariant representative near your mill or vendor.

Why can I usually find the color I’m looking for in the Pantone system but have difficulty when using other color systems?

Answer: This is not an accident; your color is there by design! One of the most important features of the PANTONE System is its relevance to your marketplace. At its inception, Pantone evaluated 10,000+ products in the fashion and home markets to select the most relevant shade for those industries. Every few years, we add new colors that reflect market trends and new core shades. Most other color systems in the market today were created using a theoretical or randomly generated color gamut. The result: many of the colors are often very close in shade and have limited production application.

Why are SMART swatches individually packaged?

Answer: SMART swatch packaging serves several purposes. The packaging keeps the swatch in pristine condition until you are ready to use it. It keeps the swatch free from dirt during storage and shipping and also keeps the swatch smooth and wrinkle-free. Due to the nature of the material used to make the package, the swatch is protected from UV rays, which could otherwise fade the color of the swatch.

Does the SMART swatch packaging film contain BHT?

Answer: No, the film does not contain BHT and will not cause any color changes caused by fabric yellowing.

How long will the SMART swatches last?

Answer: To protect SMART swatches during storage and shipping, each SMART swatch card is packaged in an airtight, BHT-free, UV protective pouch. Although it is impossible to predict exactly how long a swatch will retain its color integrity, unopened swatches will maintain their color integrity much longer than if they were not packaged in our protective pouch. Once SMART swatch protective pouches are opened, local conditions and the way the swatches are stored will determine how long the swatches remain valid. Since this is beyond our control, we cannot determine the effective life of the swatches once the protective pouches are opened. To maximize the life of your SMART swatch, we recommend that you store them away from direct light in a temperature controlled environment (70° F or 21° C, 50% RH).

Why is spectral data important?

Answer: Spectral data is essential in digital color evaluation and communication, and Pantone offers spectral data on all 1,925 SMART colors. In combination with a PANTONE SMART color swatch card, spectral data helps to reduce metamerism and provides the most accurate standard combination for multiple vendor production of garments and home furnishings products. Spectral data also allows users to create a permanent digital library of color standards that will not fade or age and communicate PANTONE Colors electronically.

How do we know that the swatches being shipped from inventory in other countries match the color we have chosen from our swatch file?

Answer: We have improved our own manufacturing processes by ensuring all spectral readings are done in temperature and humidity conditioned environments, and our lab-to-production correlation is less than 0.5 Delta E CMC(2:1). Every dye lot is evaluated against the master digital standard and must pass both the digital and visual evaluation to become a PANTONE SMART color swatch card.

FYI – Pantone conducts all visual and instrumental evaluations under D65 lighting in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. For optimum color viewing and color measurement, we recommend a temperature of 70° F (21° C) and 50% relative humidity.

What if I can’t find a key color needed for our palette in the Pantone system? Will Pantone custom dye my color?

Answer: Yes, Pantone has been providing custom dyeing for many years. While custom dyeing your colors will negate the “Speed to Market” benefits of our off-the-shelf SMART color system, it is a service we can provide to Pantone customers.

My primary light source is not D65. Can PANTONE’S SMART system colors be matched under my light source?

Answer: Yes, SMART colors can be matched under any light source. These colors have been engineered for optimum color constancy. Constancy refers to how the color matches itself when lighting conditions change. For example, a color with high constancy would look very similar when viewed under D65, CWF and TL84 light sources. Though it is impossible to completely prevent color inconstancy, Pantone and Clariant expertly evaluate every dyestuff combination to minimize this affect. Of course, color management best practices dictate that you should always view your proposed color palette in the light box under your primary light source before finalizing. If you like the way the colors look under those conditions and your vendor matches their light flare characteristics, you will have good results.

If I am using the PANTONE FASHION + HOME color palette how do I know which publication would be right for me?

Answer: If you are involved in palette development and need to create story or presentation boards or just prefer working with a bigger swatch of color there are three products you can choose from. For those working in soft goods such as apparel or home textiles the PANTONE FASHION + HOME cotton swatch files, a four book set containing removable 2” x 2” swatches, or the PANTONE FASHION + HOME cotton swatch set, a portable case displaying removable 1" x 4" loose format cotton swatches of all 1,925 colors arranged on rings in groups of 35 and displayed in two removable trays would meet your needs. Designers creating products in hard or non-fabric surfaces such as fashion accessories, leather materials or ceramics would be best off using our PANTONE FASHION + HOME color specifier which features six larger–sized tear–out chips of each color in one single volume. Tear out chips can be attached to drawings or submittals giving you a permanent color record, can be sent out as a physical way to communicate color choices or as a standard for quality control. Replacement pages are available.

If you are traveling and need to work with a portable color library or enjoy working with a tool that provides you the ability to see all of our colors at one time, than the PANTONE FASHION + HOME cotton passport, a compact, portable book displaying our cotton color chips in a user friendly accordion format or our PANTONE FASHION + HOME color guide, our color-on-paper paint book style fan deck would be the right tools for you.

For those working with our cotton formats that need an accessible desktop reference, our PANTONE FASHION + HOME cotton planner is housed in one binder and allows you to see our all of our colors in cotton format. Each cotton chip is 5/8” x 5/8” in size. The PANTONE FASHION + HOME color selector is a two book set showing each of our colors in groups of seven displayed on individual removable strips. Each two ply cotton swatch measures .75” W x .875” H.

If you need to utilize PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color Standards for production, you can either use our PANTONE SMART color swatch card or our PANTONE FASHION + HOME color specifier chips.

For a more seamless transition from CAD design to physical samples, the PANTONE FASHION + HOME digital color library gives you the ability to easily integrate the PANTONE FASHION + HOME color palette directly into your design programs.

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