Renata Santos Beman
Presenting the blind consumer: an investigation of the meaning of fashion clothing involvement in the absence of vision.
London College of Fashion
What remains of a fashion brand when vision is not present? An investigation into how multi-sensory experiences compensate for (or replace) visual aspects of fashion for blind consumers.
As the most direct means of communication between a consumer and a fashion brand, visual merchandising represents the most important marketing tool to endow a fashion brand's profile (Pereira, 2010). The relationship between dressing the body and individuality, as self-expression, is complex (Johnson, 2008) and it may be perceived through the analysis of an individual's purchasing behaviour: choices of colour or brands and tendencies to follow, or not, fashion trends.
Many researchers have been looking at aspects of originality, exclusivity, country-origin effect, disposability and sustainability by contrasting consumer groups, cultures and symbolisms in fashion brands. Liao (2009) suggested that 'vision' is the predominant trigger of a consumer’s impulses and emotions towards brands, which may underlie social-psychological needs, desires to (re)affirm a sense of status, representations or (re)invention of our (perfect) selves (Goffman, 1959) in a consumerist society (Veblen, 2005).
Visual merchandising has a direct impact, driving brand recognition and indirectly creating a cerebral connection between a window display and the brand(s) inside of the store (Sen, 2002; Kemal, 2007); playing with our senses, aesthetic value and imagination. Hence, it may be difficult to imagine what can be left of a fashion brand when visual aspects are not present, and how, without visual marketing to influence one’s sense of self, a blind individual can be a conscious dresser.
This project takes a multidisciplinary approach, using academic disciplines ranging from fashion, history, social cognitive psychology into biology and neuromarketing to investigate the relationship between fashion and disability in modern society. It aims to find out what is left of the meanings, importance, emotions and value of fashion (brand) as a social-psychological phenomenon when vision is not present.