Mental Health in Fashion: An Interview with Liz Beecroft
WHEN BRANDS MARKET MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES, DO YOU FEEL THERE ARE SPECIFIC COMPONENTS NEEDED IN THE MARKETING ROLLOUT TO APPROACH THIS TOPIC?
The key to marketing mental health effectively is ensuring the topic comes from a place of authenticity versus profit. Mental Health is not a disease to profit off of. Brands should be an ally; a form of advocacy. The best approach I have seen is when brands partner with organizations to help spread awareness of the various diseases (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.). It is crucial for the marketing rollout to include factual information, resources and correct language as they want to ensure they are not enforcing anything that could trigger someone already suffering with these issues.
WHAT BRANDS DO YOU FEEL ARE DOING A GOOD JOB AT MARKETING MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES?
Brands that are doing well within the space are: MadHappy, Calvin Klein, Philosophy, Paratodo, & Ban.do.
WHAT MENTAL HEALTH RELATED MESSAGES / ISSUES DO YOU FEEL NEED TO BE FOCUSED ON TO ADDRESS THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS IN THE DIGITAL SPACE?
I feel that focusing on the topics of transparency and authenticity in the digital space are important. The younger generation today are growing up with technology and information at their fingertips. I think it’s really important to discuss that social media can often be a highlight reel and to stress the importance of how this highlight reel could play a role in self-esteem, symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, feelings of isolation, etc. I also think encouraging the younger generations to follow accounts on social media that make them feel good about themselves is another key point. Another topic I feel that needs to be focused on is to provide psychoeducation through the digital space about symptoms of mental illness. It’s so important that we educate the younger generations on this so they are aware of how to support one another, how to recognize the signs and symptoms and how to be able to provide each other with resources rather than fighting these battles alone.
HOW DO YOU / CAN YOU INCORPORATE MENTAL HEALTH MESSAGING ON YOUR PERSONAL/BRAND SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS?
Through my social media platforms I often post mental health related imagery (usually quotes that hit home or can resonate with different feelings). I often share resources with my audience and have also started several 'support groups' which are DM groups where people can use the platform to talk about their stressors or get support/advice/opinions from others in the group. The theme of my recent Nike By You collaboration is all about mental health awareness. I used the colour green on the Air Max 270 React to represent mental health awareness, a wavy swoosh to represent that healing isn’t linear, and called the sneakers In My Feels to represent that it’s okay to feel, in fact its normal to have a range of emotions. I also partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention where I donated 100% of the profit I received from sneaker sales. Throughout my marketing rollout I recreated vintage Nike ads where I was able to incorporate mental health information by including resources within the copy.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS BEING DONE OR NEEDS TO BE DONE TO UNDERSTAND THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF YOUNGER CONSUMERS?
I feel that brands need to spend time doing focus groups with younger consumers to better understand their mental health needs. In order to accurately represent this generation we need to sit down and talk with them, get a good understanding of how they’re feeling, what they like and don’t like and then make moves from there.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU FEEL FASHION POSITIVELY IMPACTS THE MENTAL HEALTH OF YOUNGER CONSUMERS? IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU FEEL FASHION NEGATIVELY IMPACTS THE MENTAL HEALTH OF YOUNGER CONSUMERS?
Fashion positively impacts the mental health of younger consumers because it can allow self expression, providing these consumers with more self confident to be true to themselves and dress the way they feel fits their personality best. I also think that there are some brands out there that have amazing messages with their clothing, which can also positively impact the consumers who are aware of these messages. I feel that the negative impacts that fashion has on the mental health of younger consumers are through what they see through social media. I can speak specifically in the streetwear community, the idea of 'hype' and 'clout' is something that often equates to status and how 'cool' someone is. If you have the newest released that are limited or expensive designer brands, it could lead to this harmful mentality of measuring your worth by superficial things such as clothing, sneakers, etc. I think brands need to go a better job at addressing this, especially with the younger generations.