Last month I was interviewed by a journalist for the New York Times @NYtimes. After having spent time with a ‘Fashion Psychologist’ in New York, the journalist was keen to understand how my work as a psychologist working in fashion, might be different. #psychologyforfashion
As the article points out, #fashion #psychology is not an academic discipline. On the other hand, Psychology is a well-established and well-respected discipline which is regulated by national Professional bodies across the globe. In the UK, the professional body is the British Psychological Society @BPSOfficial; in the USA, it is the American Psychological Association @APA.
The BPS “aims to raise standards of training and practice in psychology, raise public awareness of psychology, and increase the influence of psychology practice in society”.
Simply put, psychology for fashion applies the discipline of psychology in the context of fashion.
Psychologists don’t rely on anecdote or intuition to make claims about human behaviour. Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour. Theories are developed over time through rigorous, iterative testing of existing theory and evidence so it was interesting to read how a fashion psychologist creates theories. As the journalist points out, “none of these theories or labels can be found in any psychology textbook or D.S.M. manual”.
Fashion psychology, as defined in the NYT article, is the “study and treatment of how color, image, style and beauty affects human behavior, while addressing cultural norms and cultural sensitivities.” Although psychology for fashion is also concerned with the impact clothing has on behaviour, reciprocal sociocultural influences, and consumer behaviour within the fashion industry, it goes much further.
Psychology for fashion considers the #mentalhealth of consumers and of current and future employees within the fashion industry. The lack of representation and diversity in fashion media can result in negative psychological outcomes. In the industry, burnout is common and working conditions are often unregulated. A more sustainable industry would benefit everyone. It could be achieved through using structured, iterative behaviour change programmes. Many more examples are described in my recent book, The Psychology of Fashion.
Psychologists are trained to understand and predict human behaviour. Their contribution is valuable in any field in which humans are involved, not least the fashion industry which impinges on everyone. As I often say, even if we don’t consider ourselves interested in fashion, we all wear clothes!