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Grace Herrmann

Ms. Comeau

Honors A- Research Paper

March 11, 2019

ABSTRACT: The following text reviews the effect psychology has on people's attitudes towards

the garment industry. This is important because consumers may not realize that their minds have

been warped by companies and media to think we need to live materialistic lives and that is what

will make us happy. This essay covers topics such as: how buying clothes has become something

that makes you happy, how it changes one self-image and what they think they need to be

deemed “cool”, and how clothing has developed from something as basic as a human necessity

to something that goes with every trend and new season. Additionally, the text explores the

beneficial aspects of fashion and its psychological impacts on minds, and that is creativity and

individuality. This essay seeks to answer the essential question, how can we reduce the negative

impact the garment industry has on us psychologically. The purpose of this is to help educate

consumers on how they can stop being “controlled” mentally by clothing companies and the

media.

Mentality of Fast Fashion

Have you ever looked at an advertisement and thought about how badly you needed that

pair of jeans? Have you bought that one shirt that everyone is talking about because it’s popular?

We all do it, whether we realize it or not. Fashion is one of the leading industries in the world

today estimated to make about $278.2 billion this year. Everyone: men, women, and children are

impacted socially by others’ opinions and the need for fast fashion is becoming even more
present. Stores pop up everywhere and are constantly changing and starting new trends that the

population “must” keep up with. While fashion psychology has been around for centuries, from

the Song Dynasty in China foot-binding, to having pale skin in the Elizabethan era, people only

became fully aware of it in the 19th century due to Henry James an American psychologist.

Technology has also given people the ability to reach across the world to see and communicate

with those who we aspire to be or live like that prior to people didn’t even know existed. ​Media

has become one of the biggest psychological influences on young minds today, and it is one

of the leading factors that make the garment industry as popular as it is.

Media provides an idea of what you need to have to be happy, when it shouldn’t affect

your your mental life whatsoever. Buying clothes is something that is supposed to provide

pleasure and give a feeling of self-worth. Fashion psychology is the way companies use the

industry of fashion and sciences to provide consumers with a therapeutic tool to change the

consumers sense of worth. An article called “The Emergence of Fashion” describes it as

“manageable therapeutic tools that ultimately assist in the development of desired results in both

clients' perceptions of self, their behaviors, and moods” (The Emergence of Fashion). Another

example is from a article on “The Psychology of Marketing Women’s Apparel”. In this article, it

shows a man in a relatively plain, boring apartment pull on a pair of Levi jeans. Immediately

after, color bursts through, it seem like wearing this casual outfit gives your day so many

possibilities. This method of marketing is used in many other types of things not just clothing but

all the way to shampoo and food because of how well it works. Dopamine dressing is another

highly impactful idea where wearing fun and bright clothes can alter your mood and make you

happy. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain’s neurotransmitters that regulate emotional


responses and makes us work towards achieving a goal. This is a very true concept. For example,

the color yellow has become a color associated to summer and the sun, a time when people are

happy and have no worries. In reality clothing should have no effect on your mood, it is a

materialistic way of living that doesn’t last and isn’t necessary to live.

Companies must change how they market their clothes in order to have a lesser impact on

easily manipulated minds, and having them think they need something or need to look a certain

way. Companies target specific groups of people with different types of marketing strategies and

styles. Using models who have a certain body type and having them wear clothes that makes it

look as if they are very happy has a huge impact on people. When online shopping, you never

see pictures of models who are sad or depressed, they all have huge smiles on their faces as if

they are happy to be wearing what they are advertising, convincing young minds that the same

will happen if they buy that article of clothing. Media influence is so impactful on young minds

that if you wear a certain brand then you are deemed “cool”. On social media sites, it is hard to

go one minute without seeing someone showing off their clothes, or a new car, or makeup. For

example, companies like Gucci are very expensive and have been branded as something that if

you have it, it means you have money to go around buying expensive items for leisure.

Additionally, companies use a marketing technique where a person if having a bad day until they

put on their piece of clothing trying to be sold, they will be happy and everything in their day

will be amazing.

Companies give out the idea that people need to keep up with all of the new fashion

trends that emerge weekly; negatively affects consumers in many ways from how they think
about clothing to what they think they need. So many different seasons and trends have evolved

over the past years; from summer, winter, spring, and fall to mini seasons within.

“The traditional spring/summer autumn/winter of international fashion

weeks is just for show. Zara, the Spanish fast fashion behemoth broke the mold,

introducing mini seasons every week. Normalizing 50-100 mini seasons per

season” (The True Cost).

Companies like Zara know that consumers are willing to do what it takes to keep up with trends

and therefore create new trends in order to profit as much as possible. On top of that, trends alter

one’s self-image, making them think they need to change their body type of buy a new closet to

fit in. If someone is wearing something they love, but it is something they bought a long time

ago, they initially act on their own self-image, but like everyone, they too will be affected by

others perception.

While fashion and buying clothes is an addictive trait, it can also lead to more creative

people who are finding ways to express themselves. Clothing gives people a way to be creative

when they are living in a world where their creativity is suppressed. In workplaces and schools

most people are forced to abide by certain rules and have daily schedules that they can’t escape,

and being able to dress how they want provides them with a way to be themselves. Schools

without uniform provide students with a creative outlet, whereas students who are forced to use a

uniform they lose their individuality. Clothing and fashion provide a way for people to show who

they are, whether they are wearing jeans or a dress or a swimsuit. The ability and access to

clothing people have nowadays has led to more creativity and finding yourself.
In conclusion, the fashion industry has many upsides, but what it does to your mind and

views is a downside making it the hugely successful industry it is today. Fashion is responsible

for people thinking they need physical items to be happy, they use marketing techniques that

alter how one thinks and social aspects to be a direct pressure. We as the people must all be

aware of these lasting effects on our brains and our bank accounts. This cannot be changed by

one person, we must face it together head on. So the next time you are out shopping, whether

you realize it consciously or not, you must decide whether it is worth it to spend the money for

that fleeting happiness or popularity. Advertise in newspapers, social medias, or apps on what

the effects of fast fashion are, make more people aware of it and maybe we can change the

negative effects it has on the world.


Works Cited

Bramley, Ellie Violet. “Dopamine Dressing – Can You Dress Yourself Happy?” ​The Guardian​,

Guardian News and Media, 3 Feb. 2017,

www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/feb/03/dopamine-dressing-can-you-dress-yourself-hapy.

“School Uniforms: Conformity vs. Creativity.” ​ParentMap,​

www.parentmap.com/article/school-uniforms-conformity-vs-creativity.

“The Emergence of Fashion Psychology.” ​CareersinPsychology.org,​ careersin

psychology.org/the-emergence-of-fashion-psychology/.

“The True Cost.” ​The True Cost​, truecostmovie.com/.

Types of Marketing | Explore the Various Types of Marketing Strategies Used by Professionals​,

www.marketing-schools.org/consumer-psychology/marketing-womens-apparel.html.