What is Millennial Pink?

Millennial Pink has seeped into the worlds of fashion, digital design, even kitchen appliances. So, what’s the story behind this color?

Millennial Pink
Portrait for Dom HennequinBy Dom Hennequin  |  Updated November 19, 2020

This might look like an ordinary color. But it’s not.

No, there’s something very special about it. And it’s not identifiable just looking at it.

No. This color is very popular with a whole generation of people called millennials.

Millennials are generally identified as people born from around 1980 to the mid to late 1990s who grew up in the 2000s.

They’re the people who eat avocados, use Snapchat and will probably never be able to afford a house.

And they love this pink.

So much so that this pink is named after them.

Millennial Pink – as it was labeled in mid-2016 – has made appearances in Instagram posts, on Tumblr pages, on catwalks and on Drake.

But its reach hasn’t been contained to celebrities, models and the internet.

It’s also been seen on sofas, saucepans and dustbins.

So what is the deal with this color? Why did millennial pink take over the world? And is it nearing the end of its reign?

What is Millennial Pink?

Every year, Pantone picks a color and labels it the color of the year. But most years not a lot really comes from it.

In September 2016, they named Pale Dogwood in its 2017 Fashion Color Report.

And it couldn’t have been more in sync with the public mood.

In the decades previous slightly different shades of pink had made appearances.

There was barbie pink which feels like a sugar rush to the eyes.

Salmon pink which you can still spot on the occasional preppy boy.

Peach pink, blush and delicate pink.

Millennial pink, however, was a slight bit more neutral. Almost like beige with a light addition of pink.

It entered the public consciousness quietly.

But then all of the sudden, it was everywhere.

Here are some speculative reasons as to why it took off.

Is Millennial Pink Calming?

Look, the jury was out, came back, and decided that there’s no scientific proof for what I’m about to say. But there is an argument to be made that the color is – or seems – calming.

Baker-Miller Pink is a color created by biosocial researcher Alexander Schauss. It’s the result of mixing red and white paint together and it’s a little brighter than millennial pink.

Schauss was so confident in its ability to calm people down that he performed an experiment testing the color at naval facilities where prisoners were monitored.

He claimed the evidence showed the color lowered blood pressure and aggressive behaviour.

Science, however, did not back this up. And in 1988 a study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine determined the color had no real effect on human behaviour at all.

But that didn’t stop Kendall Jenner from reviving the debate after painting one of her rooms Baker Miller-Pink to “calm” her.

Contemporary scientists claimed she was wrong. But her Instagram following probably disagrees.

Its Androgynous

According to a 1918 edition of Ladies Home Journal, “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl”.

Ignoring the inherent problems with using that publication as a guide to very much at all, it is a fascinating quote to pull out considering the color pink’s association with women seeming like a rule handed down on a stone tablet.

But it actually wasn’t. Instead, according to Vox, it was influenced by what First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower – who thought the color matched well with her skin tone and eyes –  wore during her husband’s reign in the 1950s and 60s.

Nonetheless the color’s association with femininity has endured.

However, for millennials the whole idea of gender is becoming fluid.

Men wearing pink has helped blur the boundaries between the sexes in a small way, and has helped the color develop a ubiquity similar to what beige experienced to some degree in the 90s.

But it’s extended far beyond the occasional shirt or pair of pants into full sweats and suits bathed in the color.

It Goes Viral And Moves Product

The color really stands out on social media.

And people are aware.

Dimes – a restaurant in New York – once had a table that was pink. By September 2016 customers of the millennial demographic kept requesting to sit at it. Why? To Instagram their food on it. The owners decided to remove it.

The Gallery at Sketch London – a restaurant – has pink walls and pink velvet chairs.

Common Projects released its main model of shoe in a blush pink.

Poke bowls with salmon became popular.

Le Creuset made a saucepan collection in “hibiscus.”

Other brands made other things in pink. (dustbin, side table, mixer, toaster)

Gucci presented a whole resort collection in pink.

Glossier made pink its main brand color.

Rose quartz crystals started to sell out.

Furniture started selling in pink.

Posts with a pink thing in them perform better. A normal post might get 1,500 likes, and the pink ones get 4,000.

Monica Khemsurov from design blog, Sight Unseen told The Cut

The iPhone was released in rose gold – aka pink.

And Drake and Rihanna wore pink things that almost instantly sold out.

Is It Over?

Apparently we hit peak pink about a year ago and it’s time for a new color.

But what?

Vogue thinks it’s these.

  • Gen Z yellow
  • Safety orange
  • Melodramatic purple
  • Neo mint

But I’m less convinced.

I don’t know that anything could truly replace it.

I mean, how often do generation defining colors come about?

It’ll be a long time before we have that much affection for a color again.

But who knows. Kendell Jenner’s wall or Drake’s next album cover could change all that tomorrow.

Until then, I’ll keep using my pink trash can.

Video Credits

To add a pinch of pink to your design, browse the Envato Elements library.

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