Mental health awareness is something that in recent years, has gradually gained attention. More and more people are being encouraged to not only take care of their own mental health but to also look for warning signs of mental disorder in others.
Nonetheless, there have always been misunderstandings about mental health problems. Those who think they are not glamorous even said that “People with mental problems can’t work well” and “Depression is just a bad mood.”
We should re-emphasise the issues caused by long-term neglect, save those silent individuals who are still suffering in pain, prevent their psychological problems from aggravating, and avoid going to extremes.
Mental health problems could appear in everyone, whether male, female or even children. Severe ones can bring a high risk of suicide, so it is not surprising that fashion brands are banding together to show their pro-mental health awareness stance.
Consumer behaviour in the driving seat
The fashion industry’s attention to mental health is not about a brand or company cheering for its values. In fact, it is largely determined by consumer behaviour. Due to the recent push for awareness of these potentially fatal disorders, people gradually realise the great harm of psychological problems, which also makes consumers start to consider the values contained in brands.
Previously, consumers would not completely associate the brand with the brand owner, nor cared about the values assigned to the brand by the managers behind the products, let alone whether the values of these brands were consistent with their own ideas.
However, the tides have risen and tables have been turned. It is consumers who will have the final word nowadays. Even for those large multinational corporations, the consumer tends to ensure that their hard-earned cash is going only to brands they can fully support, regardless of how amazing their products or services are.
The wellness industry
I don’t know if you have found that the popularity of the wellness industry is closely related to the increase in attention to mental health problems. Focusing on this shift, the wellness industry provides various products to encourage us to recognise the importance of self-care. But not all psychological problems need to be dealt with great fanfare. The wellness industry advocates taking preventive measures to look after our mental health. In many cases, just spend more time on yourself.
With the promotion of the trends in consumer behaviour and the developing sector of the wellness industry, fashion businesses start to fight on the topic of mental health to attract consumers. However, today’s consumers are always critical when spending money. As a result, fashion businesses must be authentic and believable.
British online retailer Boohoo is a perfect example of an established fashion brand taking a stance for mental health and profiting from it too! One of their campaigns included partnering with the World Federation for Mental Health in order to create their #COLOURAFFECTSYOU graphic tees. While a percentage of the profits go towards funding the federation, at the same time, Boohoo encouraged those who purchased the tee to post photos of themselves on social media, wearing the shirt loud and proud and using their hashtag.
Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue also created some intriguing activities for customers in November 2019. One of the experiments is a challenge with the theme “Happy Not Perfect” which is divided into 8 parts, including neuroscience, meditation, positive psychology, etc. The challenge came following their own graphic tee released last year which read “The Future is Stigma Free.”
Dedicated mental health fashion brands
While many existing fashion brands have taken place in the trend of focusing on mental health, new brands also want to look for the opportunity to raise awareness. For instance, newcomer jewellery brand MantraBand has created a selection of metal bracelet bands with positive messages for their first collection drop, while Ban. Do created similar name necklaces emblazoned with mental health disorders to allow wearers to own their disorder and to be open about it without having to physically voice their problems.
The aim is to alleviate the guilt and heavy psychological burden of people with mental health problems. Unfortunately, the work was not well received by everyone. On social media, lots of netizens believe that mental health is not a trend and should not be made into jewellery such as pretty necklaces. Besides, someone joked that they’d never heard of anxiety or depression until someone spelt it out on a necklace.
Therefore, for some people, fashion products inspired by mental health can be regarded as a badge of courage or a warrior declaration against psychological problems. For others, on the contrary, the idea is incredibly crass and dismissive of the reality of the mental health problems.