When picking a color palette, for your room, a wedding, or your outfit, you want to consider more than just a color that “seems right.” It’s important to understand the history, personality, and the meaning of a color. Not only will it give you a better sense of what the color means, but also how it plays to your aesthetic. One of Owen & Fred’s most used color is Navy. This was a conscious choice for many reasons, starting with its history, what it represents, and how others tend to use the color. We’d like to explain a few of those aspects to you.
Before there was Navy, there was simply blue. In fact, blue was a late-comer to color. While red, black, and browns can be seen as early as cave drawings, blue is never mentioned until much further down the timeline of human existence. Ancient Greeks didn’t even have a word for blue. The closest words being glaukos and kyaneos. Kyaneos meant dark, but that could potentially mean deep blue, violet, brown, and black. Glaukos is even more vague, it just expressed the idea of a color, or lack thereof.
The first mentions of blues are when dye makers found a way to actually make the color from a weed known as woad. The colors created from woad were often lighter, closer to a sky blue. Julius Ceaser mentions the color in 55 BC, when Scottish warriors began smearing it across their face. The color worked in two ways for the Scottish, first by woad having antiseptic qualities that helped heal wounds, and secondly, by scaring the hell out of the opposition. However, as dye processes became more advanced, the indigo plant had become a more popular source of blue for its superior qualities, one of which was the ability to make colors darker, easier. Say hello to Navy.
The color Navy has on of the more interesting histories. While many colors derive their names from from old translations (red derives from the Sanskrit word rudhira, which means blood), and others are even more obvious (think canary yellow or robin’s egg blue), Navy derives its name from the dark blue uniforms worn my offices of the British Royal Navy. Originally, Navy had been called “marine blue” as a nod to the uniforms sailors, of all kinds, often wore. However in the early 19th century, the whole of the world agreed Navy was a much more appropriate name. Ironically, most navies no longer wear navy uniforms and have switched to a strict black to help combat wear and fading.
While navies around the world have moved away from using Navy for their uniforms, many other authority figures, such as police officers, use navy as their main color. The color evokes a sort of confident class that many other colors do not bear. It’s elegant and serious while bringing solidity and strength when seen within a group of figures.
As well, higher-end dress clothes, like a fine wool suit, often use Navy as a main, introductory color. Most gentlemen guides will recommend for a man’s first suit to be navy. George Hahn writes: “The beauty of the dark navy suit is that it is nondescript enough that it can be made to look like a different suit with different wearings, depending on how, where and with what it is worn. It’s dark enough to be very dressy; it’s got enough color to “pop” with the right shirt or accessories.” While The Independent Man notes that “(Navy) will always be timeless.”
We can’t agree more. That’s why we use Navy in a lot of our branding and products. We see the color as a way to nod our caps to the tradition the color has upheld for centuries. We use it with our logo, or on stylish bags, pairing it, for example, with brown in the same way you might see a navy suit with brown shoes.
While other colors can represent strength, trust, honesty, and loyalty, Navy, to us, is a top choice. Whether you’re choosing it for your first suit, a duffel bag, or a way to add character to a top quality leather, you will look and feel as confident as the history and tradition that the color Navy represents.
“ROY G BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color,” by Jude Stewart, 2013
“Whether It’s Your Only Suit or the First of Many, Go Navy,” by George Hahn, 2014