JCPenney Partners with Datacolor to Cut Costs, Perfect Color Matching Across Textile Lines


With use of Datacolor Measurement Doughnut JCPenney Dramatically Increases Accuracy of Color Management for 3D Textiles


Organization Profile


JCPenney, one of America’s leading retailers, operates over 1,100 JCPenney department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as one of the largest apparel and home furnishing sites on the Internet, Serving more than half of America’s families each year, the JCPenney brand offers a wide array of private, exclusive and national brands which reflect the Company’s vision to be America’s shopping destination for discovering great styles at compelling prices.




Using the Datacolor Measurement Doughnut as part of the color management process, JCPenney is able to better manage the quality control of 3D fabrics such as terry towels and carpeting. This new technique provides greater cost control over the entire supply chain as it greatly reduces waste associated with off-color samples.


Accurate Color for Eyes and Machines


JCPenney, like other large retailers, typically manufactures home décor and accessories that color coordinate. For example, a bathroom line might consist of towels, bath mats, curtains, and plastic accessories all in matching or coordinating colors. In order to ensure that a blue plastic bath mat matches the same blue in a high-pile terry towel, retail organizations implement strategic color management processes to ensure that colors match throughout the cycle—from artistic development to final production.


But certain textiles, such as fluffy, terry towels and pile rugs, have typically been problematic in otherwise fully color managed organizations because they present more difficulty in accurately measuring color. In order to ensure that color was consistent across multiple runs of a product, and entire product lines, JCPenney formerly measured the color accuracy of textiles with a standard spectrophotometer. While these measurements are highly accurate on flat surfaces, non-flat textiles present a problem as the human eye does not register colors from plush surfaces the same way that spectrophotometers measure the color on these textiles. This is due to slight variations of light and shadow depending on the angle of the fabric at the time of measurement.


“The goal of effective digital color management is to remove subjective elements from color evaluation,” says Keith Hoover, Director of Global Color and Fabric Innovation, JCPenney. “Unfortunately, highly textured samples, such as terry towels, have presented two problems in achieving that end. First, their irregular surface has made it difficult to repeatedly and reproducibly characterize their color using a spectrophotometer. Second, traditional techniques such as measuring behind glass, have failed to produce results that correlated with visual assessment.”


JCPenney worked with Datacolor to arrive at a pioneering solution for the long-vexing 3D textile color measurement problem; the result is the Datacolor Measurement Doughnut. The device is specially designed to aid in color measurement of pile and other 3D fabrics such as terry towels. The Datacolor Doughnut is a fabric holder that allows the color of most types of structured textiles, i.e., terry towels, to be measured without structure influencing the measurement, providing results that more closely match the way the human eye registers colors on these fabrics. This technique is accomplished by preparing the textured fabrics for measurement on a spectrophotometer in a uniform manner.


In order to be sure that the Datacolor Doughnut was as accurate as possible, Datacolor and JCPenney enlisted the help of natific, a company specializing in factory capability assessments and production monitoring for color accuracy and precision, to test the methodology and consistency of results. natific verified the results and certified the program.


The benefit of the Datacolor Doughnut Method is clear. With conventional sample preparation method, the textile intrudes into the sphere of the spectrophotometer. The more the textile intrudes into the sphere, the lighter the measured color results.


With the new Datacolor Doughnut method the pile does not intrude into the sphere of the spectrophotometer. Therefore measurement becomes more consistent and repeatability becomes higher.


Conventional sample preparation method Datacolor Doughnut Method


Datacolor Case Studies JC Penney



“The introduction of the Datacolor Doughnut has resolved the longstanding problems associated with measuring some textiles,” says Hoover. “Not only does this new tool provide the methodology to reliably measure terry towels, but it also provides the means to make sense of the captured data so that color difference can be managed strictly by the numbers. The Datacolor Doughnut has already made a significant contribution to digital color management by providing the ability of a major producer of JCPenney towels to both match terry towels to spectral data and conform to CAP Mill production requirements, the measurements of which capture the color quality of all dyed lots.” JCPenney is reaping the rewards of the use of the Datacolor Doughnut in conjunction with their global color management process. “The benefit of this innovation is both a significant reduction in the time and cost for the color development of terry towel products and a major improvement in the color consistency of the products in the store,” says Hoover.


About Datacolor


Datacolor is a global leader in color management solutions and color communication technology. The world’s leading brands, manufacturers, creative professionals and consumers have been choosing Datacolor’s innovative technology and solutions to consistently achieve the right color for nearly 40 years. A Swiss held company, Datacolor’s global presence encompasses a sales, service and support network serving customers in more than 65 countries throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia, along with 13 worldwide operation and production facilities. Industries served include apparel and textile, paint and coatings, automotive, plastics, photography, home theater and others. For more information about Datacolor and its products or services, visit