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What Is Millennial Pink? A Brief History

Millennial Pink isn’t just a color. It’s a movement that took over social media and an entire generation, spurring passionate controversy along the way.

What Is Millennial Pink

Millennial Pink is a dusty, rosy, pale shade of pink similar to Tumblr Pink. (One way to think of it is as in between Barbie pink and rose quartz . . . . closer to the rose quartz side of the spectrum.) It’s sometimes referred to as ‘pale dogwood’ or ‘delicate pink.’ At first glance, its color association may appear pretty straightforward to the untrained eye: feminine, romantic, playful. But to truly understand the color, you have to go back – way back, to the origins of the popularity of pink itself.

Pantone Color of the Year

History of Pastel Pink

In the 1700s, pink was, in fact, not associated with femininity, but rather – get this – masculinity! This was because pink was considered just another form of red, which associates even today with strength and dominance. It wasn’t until a century later when the soft, more romantical feeling began to present itself with the color, a direct result of the fashion at the time. For men, it was darker, ‘serious’ garments, and for women, brighter colors.

Enter the 20th century, when the marketing industry skyrocketed, and colors suddenly became gendered. This would last for decades and begin to decline as millennials, with the help of social media, began to re-shape (or, at least, continue the trend toward) public notions of issues revolving around gender and feminism – and, perhaps most incredibly, take advertising into their own hands.

(It's also been said that The Grand Budapest Hotel sparked a millennial pink frenzy when it first came out; the "Wes Anderson" aesthetic, seen in so much of the director's films, favors pastels, and in the case of the Budapest, scenes of all-pastel-pink dominated.) 

Goodbye Magenta + Bubblegum, Hello Softer Shades of Pink

Which brings us to Millennial Pink, which has grown so ubiquitous, that the ‘regular’ pink of yesteryear is nothing more than a faint memory. While still, technically, pink, Millenial Pink is ‘dusty,’ feeling almost muddied. It’s definitely not as ‘flirty’ as regular pink, and in the 2020’s, it’s easy to see why. Gone are the days when colors, clothing and occupations were reserved for one gender, and not the other. Millenial Pink is the product of its namesake.

Amidst the rubble of the walls built by yesteryear’s society, it stands like a tribute to progress – all the while looking effortlessly chic.
(Pssst - we're not the only ones obsessed with color. Wired published a piece on the popularity of Rose Gold, particularly in regards to Apple's iPhone. While millennial pink is slightly different than rose gold, both offer similar color associations, and it's needless to say that the popularity of the rose gold iPhone has and continues to influence the popularity of the millennial pink — and vice versa.)

What Is Gen Z Yellow?

After Millennials decided that the moody, dusty pink color was the "it" color trend of the era, Generation Z responded with a chirpier, happier palette: Yellow. A symbol of optimism, it's an almost direct rebuttal against the "older sibling" generation, giving Zoomers a chance to rise and shine on their own.

Millennial Pink in the News

The Pantone Color Institute isn't the only brand that's been to known to hype up millennial pink. Around the same time Pantone announced it as Gen Y's hue, Paris Fashion Week went all in on the aesthetic. If you were a major fashion or style brand or site, you were in the eye of the storm when millennial pink burst onto the scene: names like Vogue, New York Magazine, Balenciaga, Glossier, Girlboss and Le Creuset are just a few of the companies that have been known to incorporate the color into their product developments, news reporting and/or iconography. Even Gucci set up a shop embracing millennial pink – here's more on that.

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