An interview with Joanna Karamanis

Joanna Karamanis

Joanna Karamanis is a Digital Marketing Strategist for ZINE and founder of TheFashionPsychology.com and is based in London.

“Fashion’s power and influence have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I was brought up amongst creative clothing craftspeople, my grandparents and godparents were tailors and seamstresses in both mass production of women’s fashion and made to measure. So from a young age, I developed a real interest in fashion styling and clothing construction techniques

I was born in London but moved to Cyprus for part of my childhood, where I had quite a broad education which included the classics, science, and humanities but also the arts. I then came back to London to study psychology at the University of Westminster.

As part of my degree project I researched and analysed the effect of clothing patterns and design on peoples’ attitudes, attention, and perception, and it was at that point when I knew that I wanted to continue combining the sciences with fashion in any way shape or form.

After my undergraduate degree, I was amongst the first students to complete the pioneering MSc course in “Applied Psychology in Fashion” at the London College of Fashion. Following on from my formal education, I began writing articles freelance for an online fashion magazine whilst working part-time in fashion retail. I then joined a start-up influencer marketing platform where four years on, I’m now a digital marketing strategist.

My understanding of current fashion consumer trends, behaviours and relationships has grown in tandem with the influence, (excuse the pun) of influencer marketing itself. Today influencers are front row at fashion shows, hugely impacting consumption and the “see now buy now” concept.”

Women in Fashion

“Fashion in the twentieth century was primarily a female-focused industry, whereas menswear was standardised in the form of the suit with a few cyclical variations. Yet traditionally the creative design leaders of fashion houses were men such as Yves St Laurent and Gianni Versace.

On the one hand, women have primarily not only been the end-users but also contributed to the bulk of the sweat, elbow grease, and craftsmanship behind the production of women’s fashion. On the other hand, despite most students of fashion being female, managing to enter the fashion industry, to date men have proportionally made greater progress to the fashion industry’s controlling roles.

Fashion is an intense, demanding and competitive industry, necessitating a 24/7 commitment working as it does to time limits imposed by consumer demand affected by the reaction to the shows, the seasons themselves and even the weather. So achieving a work/life balance in the fashion industry is more difficult for women to achieve than it is for men as the time in which women progress in the industry is typically also the time that women want to start a family. Men on the other hand, and true to the inherent ancestral roles of the “male hunter” seem to be more vocal, confident and risk-taking, grabbing opportunities for self-promotion.

Women need to believe in themselves more, taking more risks for their skills, talents, and abilities to be recognised by those people making decisions regarding higher positions, more often than not being men, who in turn need to offer women more opportunities. As there is scope for more female role models at the top of the fashion industry. Versace is the only global fashion house where women appear to have overall control in all aspects.

Consumers are influenced by people who they aspire to be similar to, moreso when they are a niche social group. Whether or not the customer is affected by whether a company is run by a man or by a woman, ultimately comes down to whether the “boss” is the face of the company and how they are portrayed. It’s less about what “is” and more about what is “seen to be”. It’s all about perception, which is the reason brands are choosing ambassadors to portray their brand’s message.”

Fashion Inclusivity

“We are social beings, and need to belong, as consumers we buy from brands with which we identify with. In the last decade, the fashion industry has become significantly more inclusive.

Models of colour have been fully integrated as indicated by the diverse casting of the spring 2020 collections in September / October. Other groups on the other hand such as LGBTQ+ androgynous dressers and plus size women to varying degrees seem to appear on catwalks only as a token representation.

However, we are seeing, via social media a variety of individual personalities blossom in their own right and making great strides in changing the way the fashion industry views the norm.

Fashion is kept afloat by women’s money. Womenswear dominates the industry, yet it is largely run by men. Fashion models on catwalks lack total diversity, and consumers aren’t persuaded by a one-model size. That’s why social media and social media influencers have had such a huge impact. Influencers who have created their own brands and represent real people, have their own “tribes” that is followers with which they share characteristics and can look up to.

I’m not surprised that men dominate the fashion industry because traditionally men have dominated all industries, but that’s changing. Four of the last 5 directors of the Tate Gallery have been women and in Spring 2020 for the first time all 4 Tate Galleries will be hosting women solo shows featuring Black, Non – binary and LGBTQ+ artists.”

Fashion Brands Leading the Way

“Mary Katrantzou, Vera Wang, Alexander McQueen whose creative director is now Sarah Burton just to name a few. Other than loving their designs these women are amazing at what they do and aren’t afraid to push the boundaries.

Katrantzou last year, was the first designer to ever fly everyone to her home country Greece and stage her show at the Temple of Poseidon. Whilst Vera Wang a mother of two has managed to run her own company and create the most in-demand and luxurious bridal gowns.

Sarah Burton has taken an amazing brand and made it her own, whilst still paying homage to Lee’s (McQueen) designs. I do believe that her designs are more wearable, practical and feminine. Also, at her last show she brought her ‘behind the scenes’ team onto the catwalk which shows that she respects and appreciates their hard work and craftsmanship.”

A Healthy and Relatable Image

“I do think the intention is there and everyone should be able to feel comfortable and made to feel that they have clothing options by being adequately represented within the industry. The industry should promote healthy, realistic, achievable body types and not extreme body images. Such extremes can cause stress and anxiety as well as anorexia and obesity, affecting many peoples’ mental and physical wellbeing to such an extent that they have a detrimental impact on society as a whole.

Breaking into the Industry

“Breaking into the fashion industry requires skill, talent, and hard work because it’s a very competitive industry where the result is the tip of the iceberg. My passion is fashion consumer behaviour. Why we buy what we buy, how can we predict purchasing behaviours, who influences what we purchase and why we decide to wear what we wear. I love people watching and predicting people’s behaviours or influences from the way they dress.

The fashion industry will become much more inclusive in the coming years. We’ll see many more brands turn to and implement sustainable fashion. Consumption will become a much more streamlined experience. With visual search and image recognition improving, anything consumers spot or see, they will be able to find or match with the same or similar items. Whether this is something they’ve seen whilst scrolling online, on socials or in the street.

Consumption will be completely personalised online. As e-commerce continues to evolve and data is being collected on purchases, consumer behaviour will become predictable with greater accuracy. Online stores will get increasingly better at categorising, but also evaluating and applying behavioural data, to completely personalise the shopping journey. Ultimately consumers’ specific requirements as to size, style and colour could be complied to order effectively couture online aiding sustainability by eradicating the stockpiling of garments.

Ecommerce will continue to grow at a fast pace compared to retail. We will see fashion influencers and social media impacting the behavioural patterns of fashion consumers online. In 2019 we saw Instagram bring the shopping experience to the forefront allowing influencers to tag products on their pictures redirecting the consumer straight to purchase. We’ll see socials making it easier to purchase, influencers influencing purchases more than ever, driving trends and changes, and more consumers will be turning to their mobiles for purchasing.”

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