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What is the Color Association of the United States?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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The Color Association of the United States, based in New York City, plays a major role in the selection and presentation of color choices that are utilized by many businesses to attract the attention of an ever-changing consumer market. The Color Association has a history that stretches back to the era of World War I, when access to many European resources were suddenly not available.

Prior to World War I, many United States based textile producers relied very heavily on French and German sources for determining the color trends that would define the product offerings for the upcoming fashion season. Interestingly enough, it was the hat makers in the United States that often imported the pronouncements of the experts in Germany and France, and then spread the ideas to other areas of the textile industry.

However, as the war progressed, it became increasingly difficult to obtain these seasonal forecasts and incorporate them into US fashion trends. The solution to the problem was the formation of the Textile Color Card Association of the United States on 19 February 1915 in New York City. Hosting the first meeting of the new organization’s board of directors was the Silk Association of America. This organization would later come to be known as the Color Association of the United States.

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The newly formed TCCA set forth a few basic goals. First, the association would issue color forecasts twice a year, with the forecasts going to all sectors of the textile industry. Second, the TCCA would help various segments of the textile market to coordinate their efforts in the use of the selected colors. Next, the main office of the association would function as a clearinghouse for information on color, tinting, and other information related to color. Last, the organization would seek to establish a reliable conduit for the purchase of products worldwide that could be used by US textile manufacturers.

By the beginning of the 1930s the TCCA was working closely with the federal government to produce colors that would form the standards for each branch of the Armed Forces. This included the color schemes for uniforms, flags, ribbons, and various types of ornamental decorations. Standards such as West Point Grey and Marine Corp Blue are two examples of the results of that relationship. By the 1940’s, membership in the organization was extended beyond the borders of the United States. Membership in the TCCA included representatives in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, and France. Much of South America also became part of the association during this period.

As the TCCA grew into a world organization with input in everything form official national colors to determining specific colors for everything from gloves to sports jerseys, the decision to update the name of the association was made. On 1 December, the TCCA became the Color Association of the United States. The Color Association, also known as CAUS, carried on a focus that was much broader than the older TCCA. While still providing support for fashions, hosiery, hats, the Color Association also became involved in color selection and standardization for synthetic fibers, floor coverings, paints, plastics, and household appliances. Today, the Color Association continues to inform the color choices that are presented to the public.

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