June 21, 2023

Exploring How We Choose Our Custom Colors

A glimpse at our Materials wall

One of the best parts about manufacturing our own bags in-house is that we can offer a wide selection of colors to our customers. Since we don't use an outsourced manufacturer, we're not subjected to a strict minimum order quantity for any one colorway. That means that most of the time, we have the flexibility to offer a bag in many different colorways, often ranging from 8 to 16 different options, depending on the availability of our fabrics at the time. We take pride in our color offerings and always strive to keep it fun for you guys! That's why we aim to introduce new colors seasonally.

Another perk of handling our own manufacturing is that we work directly with our textile mill partners to develop the perfect color dips. At TOM BIHN, we don’t settle for ordinary - we take pride in creating bags that are as unique as you are.  Each color in our 200 Halcyon and 210 Cerylon collections, as well as the majority of our 630 Ballistic colors, are entirely custom dipped to our exact preferences. Our palette is unique to us and not available elsewhere.

The process of choosing new custom colors begins approximately 9 months to one year before our planned debut date. Since the colors are custom, the lead times are longer than usual. During our selection process, we evaluate a variety of colors. Before we settled on Cerise and Seafoam for our 200 Halcyon line, we considered a total of 10 colors, ranging from vibrant to muted to jewel tones. We think about what would enhance our current offerings, what feels missing from the collection, and what else could complement our current exterior fabrics.  Our inspirations are drawn from the world around us - the vibrant Seattle streets, breathtaking PNW landscapes, and (of course) the desires of our valued customers.

A glimpse at some of the rejected samples

Once we’ve narrowed down our options to our partner mills, they begin the process of dipping samples. The timeline to receive sample color dips is usually 4-6 weeks. For the 10 colors we wanted samples of, we received 3 variations per color, resulting in 30 sample color dips! At first glance, these variations may seem almost indistinguishable, but under different lighting conditions, the subtle differences become noticeably apparent.

You might be wondering: how did we end up choosing Cerise and Seafoam from so many options? A small group of us, the TOM BIHN Design Team, discusses and votes on the colors. Cerise, was an obvious choice. We knew we wanted a pink Halcyon – pink is by far our most requested color. Just like our Zest and Solaris Halcyon colors, Cerise demands your attention, and exudes an infectious vibrancy that felt right at home with our bold shades. Additionally, we wanted to balance Cerise with something more soothing and understated, yet capable of standing on its own. We were captivated by the fluorescent nature of Seafoam, which falls perfectly between green and blue, evoking the image of the beach under the summer sun. And depending on the lighting, you can even catch hints of yellow. Seafoam is the perfect complementary color to Tidal, Dusk, and Northwest Sky, subtle tones with an understated elegance.

Final samples of Cerise and Seafoam next to Tidal and Steel 200D Halcyon

Truly, there are no bad colors, and in a perfect world, we might have chosen all of the sample dips we received. Who knows, one of the colors that didn't make the final cut this time might find its place in the choices for the next season. We’re always curious to hear your thoughts – What colors would you like to see next?


Grace - June 22, 2023

I am a sucker for Seapine Green and would love to see it come back, or to have a Seapine-like color in other fabrics!
TOM BIHN replied:
That’s such a great suggestion! Ever since we retired Sitka, it feels like we’re missing some deeper green halcyons.

Saskia - June 22, 2023

I love to see these little behind the scenes peaks. Seafoam is such a lovely color. I’d also love to see that purple in the upper right corner some day! The cooler toned purples are a favorite of mine. Colors like Acai tend to lean too red for my personal tastes.
TOM BIHN replied:
Thank you! We really like that purple in the upper right corner as well. It reminded us a lot of our Dusk Cerylon.

Jared - June 22, 2023

I’m excited about Seafoam- it’s my absolute favorite color. I can’t wait to see what you guys do with it. It could pair well with Burnt Orange, Ursa, Wilderness, Nebulous, Aubergine, and Black. I’ll just have to resist the temptation to
buy too many additional bags that contain it.
TOM BIHN replied:
Thanks Jared, we’ve considered (and currently working on) incorporating many of those combos already! :)

Jen - June 21, 2023

Thank you for explaining your color selection process. It’s the variety of colors and attention to detail that keeps me coming back to Tom Bihn. (And hopefully a return of 400d Halcyon.) I would love to see the steel blue(?) that’s on the far right in the pic that includes Cerise and Seafoam.

Leave a Comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.