Pantone is the color standard for many product-based industries, ranging from plastics to ceramics to paper to textiles. The fashion industry specifically uses the TCX (stands for textile cotton) color system. If you are making a custom print or dyeing your fabric a custom color, it's easiest to communicate with the mill, dye house, or fabric supplier using a Pantone reference number. You could send a fabric swatch cut from something else as well. Pantone is nice because the supplier may already have some formulas that work for the color you're requesting.
Here's a real-life example from a current client. They've designed their own print in Illustrator and picked colors on a screen. Now they must match the colors without a Pantone book. (A cotton color book is $600 so most non-industry people don't own these.) It is best to see swatches in person when possible. There is usually slight variance from the screen to fabric but it's typically close.
1. Find the hex code in Adobe Illustrator. Select the color with the eye dropper and then double click on the stroke color tile to open the Color Picker. This screen will appear. The hex code is the six numbers and /or letters are the number or hashtag symbol shown highlighted here #9ACCCD.
3. Pick the 'FHI Cotton TCX' Pantone book from the first drop down menu. Pick 'Hex' for color space. Then enter the hex code and click search to get your matches.
Pantone does not have a number or standard for every color in existence, but they have a lot as you can see here. This online picker will select the closest available match, shown here as 14-4809TCX.
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