How Color Meanings Change Around the World


You’re about to see colors in a new light. Picture the reds, blues, and greens you know so well, but with meanings that shift across borders. You’ll discover why white isn’t always pure, how red can signal both danger and beauty, and why green might bring envy or peace.

Dive into this vibrant journey and uncover how color symbolism paints our world’s diverse cultural landscape. Get ready, you’re on the verge of decoding colors’ global language.

The Complexity of Red

You’ll find that red embodies a spectrum of significance, from good fortune in China to mourning in parts of Africa. It’s a color that doesn’t just catch your eye but grabs hold of your emotions.

In Western cultures, red can signal both love and danger, often igniting feelings of passion or caution. For many Asian countries, it’s the hue of prosperity, happiness, and celebration—think of the red envelopes given during Chinese New Year.

Yet, this same vibrant color bears a weight of sorrow in some African nations, marking periods of grief. It’s complex, as red can represent the extremes of human experience—life’s fiery energy and its deepest heartaches.

White’s Diverse Color Meanings and Interpretations

White’s symbolism extends far beyond your typical wedding dress, symbolizing purity in some cultures while representing mourning in others. In the West, you’re probably familiar with white as the hue of innocence and virtue. Brides don their white gowns as a sign of a fresh start.

But in parts of Asia, like China, white takes on a somber note, often worn at funerals to express loss and reverence for the departed. In India, it’s also associated with peace and simplicity, which is why you’ll see it in the attire of political and spiritual leaders.

It’s a stark reminder that context is key—what’s celebratory for you might be the exact opposite for someone else. So, when you’re abroad, remember that white mightn’t always signal celebration.

Blue’s Calming Universality

Transitioning from the stark contrasts of white, you’ll find blue’s calming presence is almost universally embraced as a symbol of serenity and stability. It’s a color that soothes your mind and offers a respite from the chaos of daily life. Across the globe, from the tranquil blues of Mediterranean seascapes to the revered indigo dyes of Japanese textiles, blue maintains a consistent message of tranquility.

In the West, blue signifies trust and dependability, think of your favorite jeans or a policeman’s uniform. Meanwhile, in Eastern traditions, it’s associated with immortality and spiritual life, as seen with the Hindu deity Krishna. Blue’s ability to bridge cultural divides is remarkable, making it a rare constant in an ever-changing world of color symbolism.


Yellow’s Contrasting Energies

While you may find solace in the serenity of blue, yellow invokes a spectrum of emotions, from the joyous beams of a sunny day to the caution of a warning sign. This vibrant hue captures both the essence of happiness and the signal of danger.

In China, yellow is the color of Earth, symbolizing harmony and prosperity. It’s revered, associated with royalty and luck. Yet, in Western contexts, yellow can scream ‘caution’ or ‘slow down’ on traffic lights and warning signs. It’s a color that demands attention, whether it’s eliciting smiles or raising eyebrows for its commanding presence.

You’ll find that yellow’s energy is indeed contrasting, reflecting cultural nuances that can turn a color’s meaning on its head.

Green: Nature to Envy

Throughout history, you’ve seen green symbolize the lushness of nature, often envied for its representation of growth and vitality. This vibrant hue embodies the renewal that comes with spring, signaling rebirth and new beginnings.

In many cultures, you’ve come to associate green with wealth—think of the phrase ‘greenback’ for money, or the opulence suggested by the term ’emerald city.’

But green isn’t just about prosperity; it’s tied to luck too, especially in Ireland where shamrocks symbolize good fortune. Meanwhile, you’ve also learned to be wary of the color’s darker side, as ‘green with envy’ suggests.

Across the globe, green maintains a complex presence, embodying nature’s abundance while hinting at the human emotions it stirs—desire, ambition, and even jealousy.


As you’ve journeyed through the world’s colorful expressions, you’ve seen red’s passion and grief, white’s purity and mourning, blue’s tranquility, yellow’s joy and caution, and green’s life and jealousy.

Remember, colors aren’t universal in meaning; they’re shaped by culture and context. So next time you encounter a new shade, pause and consider the rich stories and traditions it may represent.

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
163 Google reviews
Steve McMains
Steve McMains
Great place to do business with.
Hector Aponte
Hector Aponte
Splendid service by this team. I needed a job done in one day and without hesitation I was helped. Besides the no notice, need now accommodation, the overall quality of the job of superb.
anthony mckenna
anthony mckenna
Amazing service and quality of work.
katie latimer
katie latimer
This small business is excellent! Great turnaround times and pricing. We've completely switched over to them for our uniform needs. The embroidery looks amazing and very professional. We have gotten jackets, vests, safety vests, hats and uniform polo shirts with them. The screen prints are very resistant to numerous washes. They have been super flexible and patient with us and going through getting PO set up with our company.
Dave Lambing
Dave Lambing
I am the Quartermaster for the Tacoma Fire Buff Battalion. We use Northwest Custom Apparel to produce our uniform articles. Their work is always perfect and done is record time. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Kyle Keehnel
Kyle Keehnel
Our company has been going to NWCA for years and have always encountered friendly service and quality products.
Smokey B3ar21
Smokey B3ar21
Super friendly staff , wonderful products for our company and couldn’t be happier with them
Chuck Schilling
Chuck Schilling
Working with NWCA was like hitting the EASY button! Ten days from our initial meeting to completed shirts and we couldn't be more pleased.
Bret Lauritzen
Bret Lauritzen
Prompt service
Cassandra Johnson
Cassandra Johnson
Words can't describe how much I appreciate the outstanding customer service I received from Northwest Custom Apparel! I placed an order for two coats that I needed in one week for a Valentines' day gift and Nika made it happen! She was proactive, quickly responsive, and understanding of me needing to see different looks of our company logo. She was incredibly sweet, accommodating, and made every effort to make my order the way I wanted it. A part of me felt bad asking to see the different looks, but she reassured me it was not a problem and was on top of her game! Every staff member I interacted with when I came to their shop was very pleasant, welcoming, and attentive as well. All around great work! Will absolutely use them again and highly recommend!!! Thank you Northwest Custom Apparel!!!