The answer is simple: I wanted more. When I turned 30 this year, I felt this deep seated desire to change something. I had recently read about a master in Fashion Psychology at the London College of Fashion and the more I looked into it, the more I felt like I had finally found what I had been looking for.
Here we are now, a few months and an interview later, the acceptance letter in hand, ready to embark on this new adventure. One that, though it came at a surprise, seems to have been in the making for a very long time.
When I went for the interview, the intake professor told me she really enjoyed reading my letter of motivation, so I figured you might, too.
The desire to study fashion psychology was planted in seed form within my heart at a very early age. I remember my early childhood days very vividly. I grew up in the mountains on the Swiss-German border. I remember coming home from school every day and having to change from my school clothes into what my mother had termed “play clothes” — clothes suitable for climbing trees, walking the dog in the rain or however else my sisters and I would spend our afternoons. I will never forget the feeling of shame I felt playing with the neighbor’s kids, whose parents put more faith in Ariel (or Tide or whatever other laundry detergent) than in the purpose of “play clothes”.
Later on, as a teenager, we moved abroad and my German-bred mother brought her pragmatism into our private, international school environment by making us wear proper winter boots to school. Again I experienced the familiar feeling of shame during the half hour it took to get from our home to my locker, which thankfully was located in a less frequented hallway of the building. Once there, I would immediately change these horrendous hiking boots into some more socially appropriate ones that I kept there.
Looking back I realize that I indeed discovered very early on that
What I didn’t know, however, is that this wasn’t just a personal trait of mine, but rather one of the things that perhaps sets us apart from other species and makes us distinctly human. Fashion is powerful, and as such I have continually grown in my desire to understand it.
Allow me to take you on my journey.
In 2010 I completed my bachelor degree in European Studies at the University of Maastricht. As someone who has always been interested in society and the challenges faced by humanity, the study of the correlation between history, politics, law and economics seemed appropriate. Though rather brought in scope, I was able to find my focus by concentrating most of my attention on topics related to social justice and human rights. I wrestled with subjects such as the integration of different social and ethnic groups into European society, the effects of globalisation on inequality or the results of economic policies on gender inequality. All of which, I found to be very inspiring.
Unsure of what to do with what I had learned, I took a quick stop in Brussels to intern with the German Chamber of Commerce, a special interest representation group with the European Union, before moving to Berlin to take a plunge into the creative industries. I started working as a journalist and editorial trainee for moving-images at a film and social media agency, where I learned to create and execute concepts for both shorter commercial features as well as longer TV documentaries. Based on my interests outside of the workplace, my boss soon discovered what I had myself been unaware of until then and he began to increasingly geer me in the direction of fashion entertainment, entrusting me with any client from this industry. I am forever grateful for his sensitivity and willingness to develop my strengths.
Having been made aware of this deep-seated interest of mine, I began to also work as an editor for an online television platform, which focused on culture, music and fashion. It was here that I discovered my love and aptitude for interviewing people. It was my desire with every piece of broadcast we produced to respectfully use conversation to lift the blanket over the individual’s heart to discover the true humanity inside. And I humbly count it as one of my achievements that I often heard these words: Thank you, this was the best interview I have ever had. Sometimes accompanied by a hug. I believe this ability to conduct interviews with outcomes of high quality will also come in handy during research processes.
It wasn’t just discovering my love for interviews that made my time working for the online TV channel significant. It was also my first introduction to the world of fashion, as I was able to report live from the catwalks of Fashionweek Berlin and Poland. As a fashion layman, as some of the other journalists condescendingly called me, I did perhaps see this new world that unfolded in front of me with a different set of eyes. I observed the bloggers and their extravagant outfits posing for each other’s streetstyle blogs, underaged and underweight models floating their mostly half-naked bodies across the catwalk, and annoyed buyers complaining about a lack of professionality. And I found it all very intriguing.
It was one show, the final one of Poland’s Fashion Philosophy week in 2012, that somehow popped this bubble, though nothing too extra-ordinary happened. One of the designers had simply chosen to use women from among her friends and acquaintances to display her designs on the catwalk. While middle-aged, these women were still unusually beautiful, tall and slender. As the show went on, I heard gasps and snivels and finally an exasperated crowd jumping up from their chairs clapping frantically. It was all quite confusing. I wondered if I had missed something, if somehow I lacked basic understanding and appreciation for fashion and had failed to realize the ingenuity of the presented collection. But the shift in the atmosphere was undeniable. There was something raw, authentic and vulnerable in the air. It felt as if suddenly a wall of defense had fallen and given way to a soft spirit of acceptance, a sense that beauty could have many forms and facets. Whatever happened in those few moments, it has left me wondering what was at the essence of it and I have since not been able to let this desire to understand go.
It was shortly after this experience that one of my friends asked me to join him in launching a project called RedCo, short for Redemption Collection, which we later turned into a business. This project was founded on the desire to use what we have in our hands (fashion and creativity) to make a difference for a cause that was on our hearts (the fight against human trafficking). I was responsible for all the creative, digital communication of the brand, while he took care of creating event experiences that would successfully promote the product. Working with motivated volunteers of different professional backgrounds, we gave recycled materials a new purpose to symbolize the restoration of dignity in the lives of human trafficking survivors through the work of the organization that we aligned ourselves with.
Since those early days, RedCo has grown in professionality and scope and is about to be expanded into an online storytelling agency that represents luxury fashion brands and provides an attractive opportunity to resell their leftover seasonal stock, while contributing to a social cause. The past three years of building the RedCo brand have been a steep learning curve for me. Not only did I learn about the ins and outs of brand communication, business development and leadership, I also began to research the history, the current state and the future prognosis of fashion. Founding RedCo has allowed me to combine my passion for social justice issues, my skills acquired working for communication agencies and my interest in fashion.
As a result of the questions that began to pose themselves in my mind, I started a personal blog in which through creative writing and research I delved deeper into the discussion of sustainability in fashion and the ways in which it can be used to bring solutions to the world’s problems, whether financially, intellectually, emotionally, mentally or other.
It is in this spirit that I want to begin my study of Fashion Psychology, to enter into an environment of like-minded individuals and professional experts whom I can come alongside to uncover and understand the truths that this age-old industry is desperately longing for in order to move forward to be all it can be in future days.