Pak graduated from MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals at London College of Fashion in 2017 (now MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion). Originally from Hong Kong, he lived in London for 12 years, working in Psychology and Mental Health for 8 years before entering the fashion industry. He now lives in Amsterdam, but visits London for work as a Fashion Psychology Specialist. His work focuses on the meaning of fashion - 'why we wear what we wear?' - he applies psychological theory and research to help fashion professional to explore and understanding this meaning, putting people at the forefront of their work. He says:
'These 'why's' are really helpful with designing and making products that serve a deeper purpose for consumers.'
Why did you choose to study at LCF? What attracted you about this university?
I was really attracted to the courses offered at LCF. I felt the options were really relevant to the changes that the fashion industry is facing. At first, I was interested in both the course of MA Fashion Futures and MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals. I then decided the latter would make a better use of my existing profession and I was intrigued with seeing how my skills can grow and be honed for fashion.
Why did you decide to study MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals (now MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion)?
The skills and knowledge of Psychology offers the perfect way to understand the human side of clothes, consumption, design and fashion.
I think it’s quite a common misconception that Psychology is just about mental health and wellness. But Psychology really focuses on the way humans think and behave; and clothes is a very influential tool for human processes and interactions.
What did you enjoy the most about your course?
Meeting like-minded professionals that share the same outlook. The content offered by the course was very valuable but having that space to talk to peers, friends and lecturers really helped with generating ideas and applying the knowledge to real-life.
What did you focus on for your final project?
I tackled the theory of Design Thinking, which promote user empathy and fashion design in my thesis.
Design Thinking has been relevant in many creative (and non-creative) industries for a while now. To me, it really offers a practical way to engage with users (consumers) in your design and innovation process, coming up with a design solution that is truly meaningful to people and/or society. As no one has looked at how this could be applied to fashion and design, I took the chance to explore its use and application!
I made an active choice to start my thesis a bit earlier than normal. I also wanted it to be relevant so I contacted a well-established French Fashion house to participate in my project. This added a lot more work and a lot of travel, but it was all worth it as I could explore the topic in a real-life/industry context.
The findings were fascinating, and I have since open it up for discussions with other professionals and as an editorial for Hajinsky.com. It’s interesting how this has reflected the theme of kindness – towards those working in fashion and towards the need of consumers – and how creatives would like to offer kindness on top of what they are tasked to do. Seeing how the original theme (user empathy) evolve was both interesting and important to understand how Psychology can help creative professionals and the design process.
What was the best piece of advice you received from a lecturer or tutor during your time at LCF?
Psychology can offer many theories and insights into just one single fashion topic (e.g. the emotional durability of clothes) Sometimes, keeping it simpleand just applying one theory is enough to generate great research questions, insights, actions and applications.
What have you been working on since finishing your course?
I am a co-founder and the Research Director of a digital fashion magazine, HAJINSKY.com, a fashion psychology publication that myself and one fellow student (Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein) from the same course (MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals) have set up. We want to offer a platform that connects people to the deeper meanings of fashion and introduce the knowledge of Fashion Psychology to dissect and make sense of it.
I am also a visiting lecturer and LCF and AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute), offering students a slice of fashion psychology to inform and diversify their learning (e.g. the meanings we wear; the personal and social significance of trends; the human creative process; user-centred thinking; and fashion & wellness).
Did you always know that you eventually wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
Yes! Although I was initially trained (and worked) in the mental health Psychology field, I have always had my eyes on (and my heart for) fashion. I am also very interested in the intersection between human and clothes – the way our body moves and the connections it makes with the fabric, the feel, and the shape of the garment. I think a lot of this interest came from watching way too many music videos when I was young, where fashion played a big role with posturing, communications, dance moves etc. I also find that just looking at clothes on mannequins and at fashion exhibitions a tiny bit odd, as if it is missing a certain element when it is not on a real person or when it’s not in motion. This all drove me to be really focus on the human side of what fashion means to people.
For you, what is the best thing about your profession?
Helping Design students – arguably the next generation of fashion professionals – to navigate their creative process and provide them with tools to understand the meaning and value of fashion. The individuals I've met so far are very inspiring.
They are conscious of their surroundings and they see the need to explore fashion beyond its artistic and commercial context. For example, many students are involved with the topic of sustainability. Some also has a big interest in promoting gender equality and representations. I see my role as helping them to realise and implement the human connections that are involved with making meaningful designs.
Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Our digital magazine! We are taking some time to reflect on the topics that we want to cover and address but we will be back with additional collaborations and services that makes applying Psychology that bit easier for creative professionals.
What are your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see yourself professionally?
It’s exciting – and nerve wracking – that the career path of Fashion Psychology is not well defined, so the world is really our oyster in that way! But I would love to work across different sectors and industries to continue to bring new insights and ideas into fashion. We have also been lucky enough to be on the radar of purposeful organisations like Impact Hub. I would love to develop more content and even research with them. The idea of working with innovation agencies like IDEO will be really fun, bringing fashion, retail experiences and a business model that serves creativity and people’s needs first, then say, just a business model that centres on profit.
In terms of the magazine, we would love to continue to work with different creatives to produce great editorials and exciting content. Who knows, we might produce a zine – literally we have so many options!
What advice would you give to potential students who would like to enrol on MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion?
Enjoy the content of the course, it’s rare to be offered such knowledge in the context of art and design.