Course dates

Starting date, Thursday 12 Sep 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 5 Weeks

Course overview

The fashion industry is an important global economy, employing millions worldwide. People engage with fashion at every level, as designer, retailer, consumer. If we hope to understand our relationship with fashion, we need to look to psychology. This course explores the psychological processes that underpin behaviour in the broad context of fashion. From senation and perception through self and identity, consumer behaviour and social responsibility we discuss how fashion can work for us.

Short Courses

Goldsmiths Short Courses was set up in 2015, aimed at bringing back the vibrant 'out of hours' teaching culture of the past. 

Fashion matters! We all wear clothes, yet until recently, the influence of clothing on human behaviour has been largely neglected by Psychologists. Given the economic importance of fashion, and its increasing influence socially and psychologically, fashion psychology is becoming an acknowledged discipline in its own right.

In this course, we will explore the reciprocal relationships between fashion and psychology using established psychological theories and findings from peer-reviewed journals an evidence-base. We discuss how psychological theories help explain and predict how we behave in relation to fashion, considering the complex cognitive processes involved in consumer behaviour; how our need for self-esteem and social identity are played out through our clothing; how social media affects the industry and individuals; and how we can make clothing work for us.

We will also examine the role the fashion industry and fashion consumers can play in meeting their social responsibilities. Through these sessions we discuss how the fashion industry and consumers contribute to environmental damage and how we might be able alleviate this through a better understanding of human behaviour. We will also consider mental health and wellbeing, and how this can be compromised in particular professions within the industry. In addition, we will explore patterns of fashion consumption and cosmetic interventions, and discuss how these can be both beneficial and harmful.

This course explores the psychological processes that underpin behaviour: 

  • Discover how psychology can be applied in the context of fashion
  • Explore the relationships between fashion, self and identity
  • Learn to understand consumer needs and preferences
  • Examine how the fashion industry meets its social responsibilities
  • Discover how to make fashion work for you



Booking information

Disabilty Support

We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. Please be advised that in order to provide an assessment and plan appropriate support we require as much notice as possible and, in some circumstances, up to 3 months. If you are planning to book, or have already booked, onto a short course please contact Goldsmiths Disability Team ( at your earliest convenience.

Starting date, Thursday 12 Sep 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 5 Weeks


If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses ( .

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Richard Hoggart Building

Tutor information


Professor Carolyn Mair, Founder of, is a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Carolyn works with the fashion industry, educators and the public bringing her unique skillset to address issues within the industry via consultation, research, short-courses and bespoke training. Carolyn is the recipient of the prestigious 2017 BPS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology Education. She has published more than 80 peer-reviewed academic papers and is frequently in the media. Her book, The Psychology of Fashion, part of the Psychology of Everything series, was published by Routledge in March 2018. Prior to establishing her Consultancy, Carolyn was Professor of Psychology for Fashion at University of the Arts London where she created and led the MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion, which was awarded the BPS 2016 Award for Innovative Accredited Programme and MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, MSc Research Methods Psychology and BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology and Computing. In her earlier career she worked as a visual merchandiser, dressmaker, graphic designer and portrait artist.


Course structure

Week 1: Why psychology matters in fashion

Fashion is a multimillion pound global industry which employs millions worldwide in a multitude of diverse professions. If we are to understand the behaviour of those working in the fashion industry, we need to understand the Psychology that underpins their behaviour. But the Psychology of Fashion is not only about fashion professionals, it is about everyone, because everyone wears clothes. This week we discuss the importance of applying psychology in fashion.

Week 2: Fashion, self and identity

Fashion enables us to stand out as unique and yet, simultaneously fit in. Social psychology explains our need to belong and why we form social groups. Fashion enables us to show which groups we belong to because it is an outward expression of who we are. Indeed, what we wear says a great deal about us, but it might not say what we intend. This week we explore how fashion is part of our identity and how it can influence how we feel about ourselves and others.

Week 3: Fashion and social responsibility

Although fashion is dynamic, creative and innovative, it is also problematic in terms of social responsibility. The fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters, depleting natural resourcesm contributing to landfill sites and poisoning rivers. In addition, evidence suggests that fashion imagery contributes to body dissatisfaction and unhealthy eating. In this session we consider the issues that need to be addressed by the fashion industry such sustainability and inclusivity.

Week 4: Fashion consumer psychology

E-commerce has changed the face of fashion retail and competition has never been keener. The week we look at online and brick-and-mortar retail spaces and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. We explore the latest challenges for fashion retailers and how they are attempting to create engaging experiences that build brand loyalty.

Week 5: Fashion in the 21st century

This week we recap on the previous weeks using knowledge gained to explore how the fashion industry is changing in the 21st century. We look at personalisation, customisation and gamification and wearable tech to imagine the fashion space 50 years from now.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will have gained:

• An understanding of how psychology can be applied in the context of fashion
• Insights into the relationships between fashion, self and identity
• Appreciation of consumer needs and preferences
• Knowledge about how the fashion industry meets its social responsibilities
• The ability to make fashion work for you

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