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Understanding the psychology behind the clothes you wear

From predicting trends, to understanding the consumer behaviour, the industry is working to build a relationship with fashion psychology

New Delhi |
March 12, 2021 5:30:49 pm
Indian Express fashion, fashion psychology, fashion psychology in India, sustainability, sustainable fashion, indian express news, what is fashion psychology, fashion psychology newsFashion psychology investigates every challenge in fashion through the lens of psychology to better understand human emotions. These experts explain the concept in detail. (Designed by Gargi Singh)

By Muskan Arora

Do you sometimes wonder why you are able to carry a certain outfit with elan and are confused by another? What is that inner voice telling you to wear a particular piece of clothing? Turns out it is your brain guiding you towards making a fashionable choice. On any given day, the clothes you wear and their colour, are reflective of your traits and moods.

To understand and explore the relationship between your clothes and your personality, got in touch with experts from the industry, and had them explain the concept of ‘fashion psychology’.

“Fashion psychology investigates every challenge in fashion through the lens of psychology to better understand human emotions,” says Priyanka Gangwal, a 28-year-old working as a design researcher at Disignit. “I was working with a fashion brand in India which was manufacturing products at a low price, and selling at a much higher rate; the novelty of every product would fade quickly, too” she shares.

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fashion psychology, sustainibility, fashion psychology in India. Priyanka Gangwal talks about how fashion blogging and fashion psychology are different.

“The trend of consumerism has been at its peak in the fashion industry, and adding more to it did not appeal to me. Hence, with the curiosity to understand the needs of both the consumers and manufacturers, and in the hope to be a sustainable designer, I went ahead to study ‘fashion psychology’ in London. This beautiful blend of fashion with psychology brings forth new perspectives and definitions of how psychology impacts fashion and vice versa. We investigate how fashion choices narrate stories about who we are to the world every day, and how it impacts human behaviour. For example, its influence on our perception of colours, beauty, culture — which further play an important role in developing shopping behaviours,” Gangwal explains.

She sheds light on how fashion blogging is often confused with fashion psychology, since the former talks about putting together clothes in a different and stylish way, while the latter goes beyond that, talking about the thought process of the consumer and producer while keeping in mind the defining attributes of each.

Her course included “cognitive psychology and different fashion research methods”, which helped her understand “the practicality of implementing this psychology better”. “In my thesis, I studied how I could enhance the emotional durability of a handbag, to encourage people to hold onto the product for long. I researched multiple ways — like the material you use, marketed as an heirloom product — visual pleasure is used to make the person attached to the handbag for longer.”

Fashion psychology is an upcoming and revolutionary concept in India which talks about “dealing with how the fashion industry works, understanding consumer behaviour, and figuring out ways to make fashion more sustainable, predicting trends,” says Harsheen Arora, a 34-year-old psychologist and a luxury brand owner. “For instance, when someone is feeling happy, they like to dress up, and when they aren’t feeling great about themselves, they would prefer to dress in comfortable clothing. Fashion and psychology are closely related,” she says.

Indian Express fashion, fashion psychology, Priyanka Gangwal, fashion psychology India, sustainability, fashion blogging, India When the fashion industry is predicting trends, it is based on understanding the consumer behaviour, says Harsheen Arora

India’s got a colourful culture, and Arora says the colours are deep-rooted, in that, they are important while understanding fashion psychology. “Colours have the power to impact our moods and vice versa. For instance, red is associated with feeling powerful, as it is a bold colour. Black may be used to accentuate or hide. Our minds associate colours with different things; for instance, white is used to symbolise peace, so wearing white or pastel shades can help one feel calmer.”

Diving deeper into the relationship between fashion psychology and sustainability, Namrata Lodha (52), the founder of Myaraa — that produces hats made out of grass and cloth, and aims to produce sustainable products — says the term ‘sustainable fashion’ has been “buzzworthy”, “and when you love the world you’re living in, of course, you want to do as much as you can to prevent an even larger carbon footprint. While it’s easy to want to start buying pieces considered friendly towards the environment, often that little — or sometimes big — number on the price tag may hold you from making that purchase, instead opting for more affordable fast-fashion pieces. That’s how fashion psychology and sustainability in fashion are linked.”

The entrepreneur has been working to make her product “free of any carbon prints” and adds how “natural straw hat gives us the opportunity to reset and return to our roots”. “Our hat collection is inspired by the positive impact of natural and eco-friendly material that is used in making the personalised hats. When it comes to sustainable products, quality is key. In contrast to fast fashion, products need to be built to last wear-after-wear, wash-after-wash, season-after-season. For this reason though, sustainable clothing is often more expensive to create and, therefore, to buy, than its fast-fashion counterparts, which can put some people off. Our hats may look classic, but these 100 per cent vegan and natural grass products. The classic silhouette makes them incredibly versatile.”

Indian Express fashion, fashion psychology, Priyanka Gangwal, fashion psychology India, sustainability, fashion blogging, India Namrata Lodha says the term ‘sustainable fashion’ has been “buzzworthy”.

“With the fashion industry being the second-highest polluter in the world — after agriculture — it’s imperative for brands in India to start taking steps towards reducing their carbon footprints. According to me, sustainable fashion is more than just how materials and clothes are made. Sustainable fashion equals a sustainable wardrobe — full of memories and pieces I bought over the years, which I reuse over and over again. If I have to buy something new, I always ask myself, ‘Will I still wear this when I am 60?’ If the answer is yes, I buy it,” Lodha says.

(The writer is an intern at Indian Express)

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