A Caribbean Color Palette

A Caribbean Color Palette

As most of you already know, I traveled a lot in my life and visited many places around the world, from the USA, the UK, Europe, and Africa… But there is nothing quite like the Caribbean islands!! From crystal-clear waters to lush greenery of the rainforests, the Caribbean is a feast for the senses. But one aspect that truly stands out is the vibrant and colorful color palette that adorns the islands.  It’s like the colors on a steroids!  So for this designer girl who already loved bright colors, this truly inspired and shaped my design journey with West Indies Wear. In this week's blog, I will explore the significance of color in Caribbean culture, the top color palettes found in the Caribbean islands, the most colorful Caribbean destinations to visit, the impact of Caribbean colors on art and design, and the inspiration behind the colors used for my vibrant clothing prints. Let’s sail into it ⛵️
Fruit Stand Roatan
The Caribbean islands are a tropical paradise that boasts some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. The region is home to over 700 islands, each with its own unique charm and beauty. The Caribbean is famous for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical greenery, but what really sets it apart is the vibrant and colorful palette that you see across the islands. From the bright pinks, yellows, and oranges of the tropical flowers to the deep blues and greens of the ocean and the lush foliage, the Caribbean is an absolute riot of colors.
Roatan Colorful
The significance of color in Caribbean culture
Color plays a significant role in Caribbean culture, and it is deeply ingrained in the region's history and traditions. In many Caribbean countries, colors are associated with specific meanings and emotions. For many Caribbean locals, color tells a story. Blue is the colour of the sky and the sea, symbolizing faith and trust. Red ignites passion, courage and love.  Green embodies nature, and yellow gives energy.  Orange symbolises the tropics and sunshine. And purple indicates wealth and wisdom. But why do Caribbean people or people who live in the tropics love to paint their homes in bright colors? Well, some people actually claim that certain colors reflect the sun’s heat and rather than being absorbed into the building and heating up the interior, it reflects back and keeps the home cooler during really hot days. Savvy, huh?!
Colorful houses in Caribbean
Top Caribbean Color Palettes
The Caribbean islands are famous for their bright and bold color palettes, which are inspired by the region's natural beauty and cultural heritage. Some of the most popular color palettes in the Caribbean include:
  • Tropical colors: bright and bold colors such as pink, orange, yellow, and green that are inspired by the region's tropical flowers and foliage and often used in clothing, artwork, and home decor.

Tropical Colored Tunic

  • Island colors: deep blues, greens, and teals, which are inspired by the ocean and the lush vegetation found on the islands.

Island Colored Clothes

  • Caribbean colors: a combination of the bright and vibrant colors used on man-made structures like seaside houses and other buildings. Bright and bold pinks, green, yellow and blue, this palette is often used to create a vibrant and colorful atmosphere in homes, restaurants, and hotels.

Caribbean Color Sarong

The most colorful Caribbean destinations to visit
If you're looking for a colorful and vibrant vacation destination, then the Caribbean is the perfect place to visit. Some of my most favorite colorful Caribbean destinations include:
  • Barbados: This island is known for its vibrant and colorful architecture, including the brightly painted houses in the capital city of Bridgetown. So many adorable tiny old Caribbean style homes scatter the island, how these little chattel homes survived the hurricanes better that the modern day building materials we will never understand. Perhaps color acts a shield too.


  • Jamaica: Jamaica is famous for its colorful street art and reggae-inspired color palettes, which can be seen throughout the island.


  • Curaçao: This island is famous for its pastel-colored buildings, which are a legacy of its Dutch colonial history.


The impact of Caribbean colors on art and design
Caribbean colors have had a significant impact on art and design, both within the region and beyond. Many Caribbean artists use bright and bold colors in their work to reflect the region's vibrant culture and natural beauty.  Just before the horrific earthquake of 2010 in Haiti, I was lucky enough to visit the island as part of a group of buyers. We travelled all over Port au Prince and nearby area’s visiting artists in their homes and workshops.  It was fascinating.  Haiti is a very poor country, even then, but behind the crumbling buildings and rubbish in the streets were these amazing artists creating beautiful brightly colored artwork in their back rooms and front verandahs.  Metal work intricate painted, papier mache from recycled paper, basketry, wood carvings, handcrafted life-size statues hammered out of recycled oil drums, mosaic, and hand painted bowls carved out of calabash, and sequin voodoo art.  Their creativity is astounding.
Haiti Art
The inspiration behind the colors used for my vibrant clothing prints.
West Indies Wear has always been about embracing color and comfort while expressing your personality through your clothing choices. As I have always loved bright and bold colors, even before I visited the Caribbean, but ten fold afterwards.  I love creating a collection that reflects the Caribbean’s vibrant and colorful culture, it has been so fun to be able to create a range of clothing not only for my own style but to be able to share it with island girls across the globe. From cool cotton tunics in tropical prints to bold and colorful sarongs, the West Indies Wear life is all about having fun with color!!
West Indies Wear
I was recently reminded of my graduating collection from Fashion College.  My collection was selected to represent my college at the Fashion Institute of Australia (FIA) annual design awards in the Student category in 1992.
My collection was a combination of bright primary colors and classic resortwear items.  I had to dress 5 models for the runway and I had to make everything myself.  I did everything from hand dying the lycra for the swimsuits, hand screen printing the labels and the printed fabrics. I made all the patterns myself, I cut and sewed all the garments; there were 2 skirts, one top, one dress, one pair of palazzo pants, 4 swimsuits, 5 hats, and 2 belts.   I found the most amazing soft leather in the matching colors to make the belts, and I hand painted all the hats in different colors and lined the inside of them in the matching print.
Kim Van Loo designs
Here is the link to watch the video of the collection in the LIVE TV broadcast.  You won’t believe how colorful it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq8O7vZvd2E
I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog all about the colours of the Caribbean that have inspired me so much throughout my fashion career. Even well before my West Indies Wear journey, I was channeling so much vibrancy in my designs. 
One Love,
Kim Van Loo
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1 comment

Loved the video of your fashions from when you graduated!. Talented then and more so now.


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