Daphne Duong

July 6, 2021

Podcast EP.42: The psychology of fashion and how it impacts consumer behavior

The science behind why consumers make certain fashion choices and how brands are incorporating this knowledge into their assortment planning.

Despite the pandemic’s impact on retailers last year, the global fashion industry is projected to hit $2.25 trillion by 2025, according to Statista. With demand for apparel only getting stronger, understanding the psychology of fashion can ensure brands remain relevant to their consumer base. 

Ever wonder why dressing in certain colors boosts your mood? Or why do we seem to step into a time warp every year with trends from past decades on the runways? Well fashion brands are actually applying psychological theories and principles to encourage consumer spending. 

To understand the connection between clothing and perception, we’re joined by Fashion Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell, who shares her expertise on the psychology behind our fashion choices and how it can inform future trends especially as retailers and brands navigate the post-pandemic era. Besides founding Fashion is Psychology, a platform dedicated to making academic research into fashion psychology more accessible, Shakaila has also worked with global retail brands including Next, Sainsbury’s and AfterPay.  

Key takeaways:

  • When analyzing consumer behavior, Shakaila draws links between psychological theories and studies to uncover the whys behind the whats. She’s able to help brands get a better understanding on how certain attitudes, external stimuli, psychological factors and more culminate to encourage purchasing decisions. 
  • On why we keep seeing trends from past decades reappear, Shakaila says, “We know that nostalgia can protect people and foster good mental health. After engaging in nostalgic inducing activities, people have been shown to experience high levels of self-esteem, feel more optimistic, less lonely and more socially connected and physically more warm.”
  • Given the restrictions of the pandemic and lockdown measures, people want to have a sense of power and find a new version of themselves. Shakaila says, “When we think about the relationship we have with our clothing, it affects the way we view ourselves in three main areas: the person we want to be now, the person we hope to be in the future, and the person we fear to be. Studies have shown that relationships we have with our clothing is ultimately enjoyable because it helps us navigate between these three different versions of ourselves.”

Sign up to our weekly Insider Briefing to get the latest industry news and exclusive market analysis here

Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe to unEDITED! Get in touch at unedited@edited.com if there’s someone you think would be a great guest for our show too.