That ’70s colour
Want to stand out at the office, at home, or on the road? Choose brown.
Steel yourself for a harrowing truth: white is now the most popular car colour in America.
Seem innocuous? Therein lies the problem. We’re living in a golden age of motoring, a time when cars are faster and more luxurious than ever before. Painting them the same colour as raw tofu just seems... wrong.
The quiet resurgence of brown, however, feels very right. Consider this a throwback to the ’70s, when fashion houses, interior designers and, yes, automakers shifted to earth tones.
Back then, Lincoln and Cadillac slathered their land yachts in assorted siennas; at one point, Chrysler’s catalogue offered more than 20 shades of bronze, beige and bister. Today, you’ll find autumnal looks on the runway from the likes of Bottega Veneta, Cerruti 1881 and Orley. San Diego Padres fans went crazy when their classic brown uniform was resurrected. Donald Glover stole the red carpet at the Golden Globes with his brown tux. New hotels, from Ian Schrager’s Public in downtown New York to the Andaz in Tokyo, have embraced the warm, inviting shade. Just this year, fresh metal from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Infiniti and Volvo all turned up dripping in umber. Porsche and Lincoln also added new browns this year, while Bentley’s current portfolio features a half-dozen riffs on the colour. The results are eye-opening. Why now? It’s anti-tech. Designers are fomenting insurrection against the monochromatic status quo. Consumers want something that’s the opposite of the gadgets that have infiltrated their lives. Sonic blues, candy reds, radioactive yellows—these are blunt, basic tools for breaking out of the doldrums. Brown is richer. It’s smart without being obvious, bold without being ostentatious.
That said, pulling off brown, whether it’s a tux or a velvet sofa or a chronometer, requires a certain confidence. It’s still a relative niche (acquired tastes always are), but the subtext is deliciously subversive.
1. Zenith watch 2. A Tod’s bracelet 3. A Prada boot 4. A Padres uniform 5. A Nespresso Swiss Army knife. 6. A Pantone swatch 7. Filson’s U S Forest Service shirt 8. A vintage Porsche 9. NYC ’s Public hotel 10 & 11. Looks from Bottega Veneta and Cerruti 1881 12. Milo Baughman Model #951-103 from RH Modern