Let us think about how many industries manage to influence our lives daily. Of these same industries, think about how many we consume directly or indirectly. Fashion is perhaps one of the sectors with which we have most daily contact, either because of the direct need that we must dress, or because of the external stimuli that it produces, and which make us consume it in an indirect way.
But to what extent can this medium not have an end – positive or negative – on our mental health? Through what we see, the way we buy and consume or the life we give to the clothes in our wardrobes, all of this is reflected in the way we view fashion and how we are mentally connected to it.
It is known that for years the fashion industry was pointed out as the cause of health problems such as eating disorders, especially in young people. However, over the years we have seen not only a sublimation of these problems, namely with the change in the canons of beauty, but also a slight opening to new types of bodies and new aesthetic standards.
And with this fluctuation between not knowing which body type fashionable or which parts of the body are more valued in a certain period, we arrive at mental problems such as body dysmorphia, anxiety, or depression, because we allegedly do not comply with what is fashionable or with a taste for the trendiest body type at that time.
Once the problem has been identified, we do not seek to know who is to blame, but to get answers and solutions so that the fashion industry can work together with those same issues. But first we must ask ourselves: is the fashion industry interested in solving these same issues? At HILBEA we believe so, not only because we believe that the body and mind are connected and as such, the way we think and the way we are mentally also influences the way we dress, but also because through our more holistic approach to fashion, we embrace all types of bodies, ethnicities, genders, and identities to add value as a brand. One must ask how a clothing brand can help its end consumer to have better mental health and the answer seems apparently simple.
Listening to the consumer, working on their needs, and building a close relationship will help to ensure that when you buy a piece of clothing, this act is more than just a burst of adrenaline after a less good day or an impulse expenditure.
For HILBEA – and we believe other brands should identify with the same idea – buying a piece of clothing is a moment that brings happiness to the life of the buyer, that can awaken feelings and sensations of achievement or even help to improve the self-esteem of those who buy, wear, and give life to a piece of clothing, whatever the brand.
It is on this perspective of seeing fashion beyond style that brands should work today, not only so that their consumers can buy and enjoy fashion in a more responsible and sustainable way, but also so that they can give importance to the real important things in life, such as family, friends, being centred on we again or being able to spend more time in contact with nature.
But it is also necessary for clothing brands to open the debate and let mental health take centre stage just as physical problems have from the early 2000s onwards. Embracing not only the diversity of bodies, of physiques that are different from the norm, of skin colours, as well as the problems that may exist inside and are not visible from the outside, will make brands and equip them with the skills to better understand their consumers, to be able to respond to their needs and to enlarge and amplify their audiences.
Fashion is more than anything a system, a form of representation and a channel of communication, through which everyone – without exception – can express themselves, with the basic premise being the need to be dressed. As we advocate at HILBEA, fashion means feeling good in your skin, being well and doing good: for yourself, for others and for the planet.