Fashion Designers


Here at Fashion is Psychology we were delighted to be invited to the press conference to learn all about Red Carpet Green Dress™ (RCGD), a women-led global change-making organisation born out of a need for more ethical clothing. 

RCGD hosts an annual design competition open to those with an interest or passion for sustainability. Previously, the organisation has teamed up with many designers to create red carpet-worthy looks for stars including Lakeith Stanfield who illustrated ethical high-end fashion at the 2018 Oscars. 

Samata Pattinson CEO says

“by bringing together young and established talents, we hope to encourage more designers to take a proactive step to building a more eco-friendly fashion world”. 

Suzy Amis Cameron (RCGD Founder) & Lakeith Stanfield, Oscars 2018

RCGD x TENCEL™ x CLO Virtual 2021

This year, applicants presented a digital sketch of their sustainable red carpet design before the international contest closed in August. One gown and one suit design were selected by the international contest judging panel, consisting of Suzy Amis Cameron (RCGD Founder), Harold Weghorst (Vice President of Global Marketing & Branding, Lenzing AG), Micaela Erlanger (Celebrity Fashion Stylist) and Abrima Erwiah (Co-founder of Studio 189).

Who are the winners of this years contest?

The judging panel are delighted to announce this year’s winning duo: Yuriko Fukuda and Zhi Hong Benjamin Koh. 

Born in Japan, UK-based Yuriko Fukuda is this year’s womenswear winner. 

“Expressing myself through design feels like meditation. Our minds and art are indeed interconnected, having a bidirectional impact on our mental health. Fashion is a work of art and I believe it has the power to control our mind and body.” 

Singapore-based fashion, textile and product designer Zhi Hong Benjamin Koh is this year’s menswear winner. 

“In 2016, I founded The Material Atelier by 本 (BEN), a multi-disciplinary creative studio focused on seeking sustainable fashion, featuring collaborations with local artists to create sustainable wearable art. One of our goals is to inform the public through informative videos about what goes into the material and the design of their garments… I joined RCGD with the hope of sharing our sustainable fashion vision.” 

What prize will the winners receive?

The looks will be showcased as part of an exhibition to leading sustainable advocates in Los Angeles. All winners will be introduced to a sustainable fashion and entertainment audience from across the globe, alongside a monetary award. The winners will also receive business mentorship with RCGD’s CEO Samata Pattinson, support and access to RCGD’s extensive network, and creative support for their fledgling careers.

The designs chosen by the winners will be put into production in early 2022 with sustainable eco-couture textiles in collaboration with TENCEL™ and sponsored by CLO.

Harold Weghorst, TENCEL™, textile speciality brand, CEO, hopes RCGD will inspire future generations to be sustainable as the competition showcases the beauty of eco-friendly designs to the world. He emphasises the importance of “maximising impact whilst minimising footprint”.

CEO of CLO Virtual Fashion, Simon Kim expresses that technology is the answer to operate more sustainably as Virtual Fashion provides expandability to create designs in a socially responsible way.

Next, we asked CEO Samata Pattinson to give her take on Fashion Psychology:

Fashion is Psychology: How would you describe the psychology behind buying sustainably?

Samata Pattinson: I think everyone has a different mindset. For me, buying sustainably is about the questions I ask myself before making a purchase and approaching the idea of consumption from a minimalist point of view. I look at bringing something into my life that I value, knowing we all value things differently.

The psychology behind sustainability is one of constantly balancing discernment and joy. Discernment in being selective about the purchases being made and having the genuine interest to find out more about those stories. Balanced with the joy of wanting to bring something into your life that has been made in a way that is respectful to people and the planet. 

I think when you take an interest in sustainability your approach to purchasing is accepting every purchase is part of a bigger picture.

FiP: How can we make sustainability more accessible?

Samata: I think this means recognising that people have different education levels, different awareness levels, different access levels and then understanding this means you must speak to people in different ways. Not every single person is looking at sustainability with the same perspective, and if we don’t adjust the lens which we are speaking through then we run into the danger of painting every situation with the same colour. In addition, we sometimes approach these conversations as if we’re teaching people things that they already know, and that can be quite patronising.

So perhaps what is missing is humility and awareness that education is a two-way conversation, and ensuring we show compassion about peoples’ different existences.

FiP: How does RCGD improve overall well-being?

Samata: Well-being is defined by different people from different perspectives from us. We try and focus on education-making opportunities for people to learn and empower themselves with knowledge and understanding. 

For me, education is a huge part of my personal well-being, having a better understanding of the world around me. We create opportunities, which means we try and reach talent in all corners of the globe to show the importance of the narrative not being dominated by a small power cluster. The contest we have live right now in partnership with TENCEL and CLO is about pushing to reach creatives from community colleges to high performing colleges. 

That range is important – we want creatives in different places to feel seen and welcome. We also believe strongly in taking these conversations into places where average people exist, not just having them in silos of eco-warrior spaces. 

All of this is how we see sustainability is being de-stigmatised and becoming a more accessible conversation in space.

The competition has our full support in helping draw attention to the importance of more positive practices in fashion. You can find out more by visiting the website here.

Another Fashion Month has arrived! With conversations around mental wellbeing taking hold in the fashion industry, many have began to wonder whether the seemingly never ending cycle of fashion shows are necessary in our modern climate. While there are many reasons why the industry can slow down and produce less, we’ve revealed the Psychological reason why that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal” any fashion lover worth their salt is aware of that famous Yves Saint Laurent quote. But if style is to be coveted over seasonal and seemily temporary fashion collections then why do we salivate at the thought of more collections and more shows in more cities around the world? Aside from the big 4, buyers, editors, bloggers and stylists are heading to increasingly well attended events in cities such as Copehagen, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and Florence. Aside from Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, in the article ‘What the Hell Are Resort and Cruise Collections and Why Are They So Lucrative?’ Kam Dhillon illustrates how designers are having to hastily create lines throughout the year for Pre-Fall, Pre-Spring and Resort all to suit consumer demand. Oftentimes however, consumer demand and creativity do not go hand in hand. You may remember when Riccardo Tisci cited exhaustion as one of the reasons behind his shocking departure from Givenchy in 2017. Two years prior, when WWD asked ‘Is Fashion Heading for a Burnout?’, fresh off the heels of his departure from Balenciaga, Alexander Wang brought up the intensity that comes with having to churn out an increasing number of collections.

Specifically speaking about the show system, I think that’s something everyone is challenged with — the immediacy of things, and the idea of how to deliver in this system, where the attention span has become nonexistent.

If the mental wellbeing of designers isn’t enough to stop the seemingly unending fashion show cycle then many argue that social media would surely slow it down. When discussing whether Fashion Shows still matter Jenna Igneri, associate fashion and beauty editor for NYLON had this to say:

I think fashion shows are becoming more and more irrelevant as time goes on. Thanks to technology, anyone can view a fashion show or presentation from anywhere in the world—sometimes even live—so that glamorous feeling of exclusivity has long been lost.

Originally the concept of a fashion week presented as a clear solution for industry professionals to either report on or order from designers across the globe in a  convenient and timely manner. Now, as social media has afforded consumers the ability to live stream fashion shows around the globe from the comfort of their own homes many, like Igneri have come to wonder, are these large scale productions required every 4-6 months? While the true answer may be no, as fashion shows become increasingly consumer focused, psychological research indicates that they’re unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Every time a fashion show launches consumers are offered something new and that in itself is something simply too rewarding to pass up. Studies have found that we are hardwired to be attracted to novelty. In a study published in Neuron, researchers showed participants a series of images. After participants had become familiar with those images, researchers added a new “oddball” image. Measurements of participants brain activity revealed that the brain’s pleasure centres lit up when this new “oddball” image was introduced resulted in a flood of dopamine, the same chemical that is released when we eat good food and have great sex. In another study conducted at the University College London, participants were shown 4 cards one of which had a monetary reward. When the participant chose this card their brain’s pleasure processors lit up. After a time, researchers introduced new cards to participants. The result? Participants tended to choose novelty cards over the known money-making card. While this appears to be incredibly counter-intuitive, it clearly demonstrates the power that novelty has over us.

Shiny new things are not just for babies. If fashion consumers and industry professionals are no longer presented with the rush of dopamine that occurs every time they’re presented with a new show or collection then they will likely give up on the brand and look for pleasure elsewhere. Research into brain health also shows that regular experience of novelty is essential to a long and happy life. The next challenge that the industry faces is mitigating this need for novelty alongside the need for designers to maintain their mental wellbeing.


​Even without designers warranting these major responsibilities, the role of creative director has evolved over the last decade. Creative directors aren’t just responsible for just the design layout with the clothing, they are also responsible for market.

Innovation propels the excessive need for a person to want to create. As humans, we take ownership of our space, time, and work because these platforms ignite our creative intuition. Creativity begets control, and control breeds ownership. In any good business you’ll find that ownership creates the demands that, in turn, creates the need for supply. What makes fashion designers so obsessed with their product is the fact that it’s their creation that’s in demand. Whether that creation is in high demand or irrelevant is up to the consumer. But, like every other creative genius, designers have a knack for wanting to control the things they can’t. The insatiable desire to control one’s creation usually leads to uncontrolled habits that cause damaging effects. Burn-out, decrease in sales, and creative differences are corollary effects of trying to fit the wrong pieces in a metaphorical “fashion puzzle”. So, has what we’ve seen in fashion, within the last few years, been designer’s genius turn control freak? Or has it been unwarranted responsibility on creative mind?

In the last three years, fashion houses have seen a copious number of impetuous shifts in creative control. Designers – creative directors – are either leaving for the opportunity to create their own brands or they’re being terminated due to a decrease in sales. A recent decision by Burberry, to strip CEO from Christopher Bailey’s list of titles, comes at a time when luxury brands are opting to return the creative director’s job to its roots; designing. According to a recent article by Business of Fashion (BOF), Burberry handed over the CEO position to Céline’s current chairman and chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, so that Bailey could focus more on the design aspect (Hoang, 2016). Bailey will resume his title as chief creative officer and president, which will allow him to oversee the creation of new products (Hoang, 2016). This news plays a contradictory antagonist to the recent announcement that Alexander Wang will absorb the role of CEO for his namesake brand. This will be Wang’s first time in this role as CEO, but according to Vogue, Wang and has been preparing for this role ever since he started his own women’s line in 2007 (Conlon, 2016). The paradigms in fashion are shifting and when the shifts take place adjustments become necessary.

​Designers are now pushing the pace of exclusiveness and originality instead of cherishing the patience that creativity demands. 

​Even without designers warranting these major responsibilities, the role of creative director has evolved over the last decade. Creative directors aren’t just responsible for clothing design, they are also responsible for marketing, store layouts, and digitalization that comes with the brand’s name. It can be argued that fashion house executives have lost touch with the creative process. An example of this is last year’s termination of Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz. Elbaz’s termination came after sources reported “creative differences” between the creative team and executives. According to a New York Times article, Elbaz and Lanvin did not have a steady designer-chief executive pairing (Friedman, 2015).

This lack of partisanship can cause a rift in any major establishment, let alone in the business of creativity. It can also be assumed that creative production in the fashion industry has been expedited due to the fast fashion movement (Joy, Sherry, Venkatesh, Wang & Chan, 2012). But, what used to make fashion so appealing – the exclusiveness and originality – has now made fashion overwhelming for designers. Designers are now pushing the pace of exclusiveness and originality instead of cherishing the patience that creativity demands. The skills necessary to operate with both a business mind and creative mind are skills that are only refined through trial and error. If a creative minds wants to assume control over all aspects of their product, they have to understand that inundation can be a grim reaper. 

In 2008, Wendy Malem conducted research that helped specify the necessary skills fashion designers needed to survive in the “business of fashion” (Malem, 2008). Included in Malem’s research was the realization that the studied fashion designers did not innately possess the necessary business skills to operate the business side of fashion (2008). Although Malem’s research was conducted in the UK (2008), her results can be relevant for most creative people. Business skills are not elusive for creative people. To make that assumption would be just as much of a fallacy as saying all creative people have mental health issues. However, it does take time and effort to learn relevant business skills (for anyone who doesn’t innately possess them). If a designer is taking on the role of creative director, chairman, and CEO, is the time and effort they’re contributing to the business side compromising their creative sustainability?  

Fashion designers are driven by their innate creativity. Their need to be creative subsumes their need to control what they create. Controlling what is created means having the power to make decisions about how your product is created, where it is created, where your product will sell, and who the product will be sold to. When these factors are included in the aspect of control you begin to understand why fashion designers are pursuing roles that would otherwise be pursued by trained business professionals.

​As someone who surrounds himself with creative people, I understand the propensity to want to control. I also understand that creativity does not limit one’s ability to be trained through systemic operation. Progression is a process that plagues ambitious individuals, so to be limited in an area that encourages growth can silence the creative minds that desire expansion. Designers require room for expansion, but when they are stymied it effects their creative process. If a designer wants to control their products and absorb more responsibility, let them. Don’t limit the minds that produce greatness when they’re allowed to roam free. I think any designer has the potential to be successful in both executive roles and creative roles (Tom Ford is a great example). However, I encourage designers to understand that control doesn’t have to correlate with excessive toiling.

Delegation can produce the same results (if not better results) as creating the work by one’s own hands. If the excessive need to want to control one’s creation isn’t tamed as it should be, we will continue to see burnout in the world’s most eclectic creative industry.