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Behind the Design: The J.Crew Color Library

Yes, such a place exists, and yes, we have a “color librarian” (real job title) named Cherie. To say that we’re obsessed with color is…an understatement. Take a peek.


Each season, our design team builds mood boards to start developing the one-of-a-kind palette. “This fall, we included a lot of pink—in all shades: wild flamingo, bubblegum, soft peony…” explains Somsack, our head of women’s design. Once they’ve put together the palette, Cherie takes over.

Jasmine pink.

Brilliant coral.

Wild flamingo.

“Our color inspiration can come from anywhere—a lipstick smear, a sun-faded T-shirt, even the silver from a Mylar® birthday balloon… For our fall collection, we looked to rich Italian interiors, dressage competitions, naval uniforms and ice cream colors.”
Somsack, head of women’s design


We have 6,337 (and counting) chips in our color library—all under Cherie’s watchful eye. Besides naming and cataloging all the shades for women’s, men’s and crewcuts every season, she works with the fabric houses and our design team to make sure the quality of the hue is expressed properly. Basically, if it comes back not exactly perfect, it’s redone until it is.

“We are ridiculously serious about color! I remember early conversations with Jenna about the differences between a ‘red-y-orange’ versus an ‘orangey-red’ versus a ‘more red-orange’ versus a ‘less orange-red.’ It’s like a secret language…and that was just red! Don’t even get me started on navy.”


Cherie has been turning blues into Dutch skies, greens into spearmint sprigs and reds into fiery sunsets for over 13 years. “People always ask how I come up with the color names,” she says. “I just read a lot and scribble things down whenever the inspiration strikes me.”

“Some of my all-time favorite names are Moroccan spice, misty forest and weathered charcoal… But it’s so hard to choose.”

Photographs by Bryan Derballa.

Shop the women’s collection here.
TAGS: inspiration, womens, behind the design