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Graduate Spotlight: MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals student Judith Achumba-Wollenstein

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judith_ma_psych
Written by
loukia
Published date
13 January 2017

Up next in the LCFMA17 Graduate Spotlight Series is Judith Achumba-Wollenstein who studied MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals. She spoke to us about her final research paper, her time at LCF and her biggest inspiration.

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My final project… is a research paper. I have conducted an experiment to test the influence of brand storytelling, on the meaning that is associated with an item of clothing and in how far this meaning can influence the behaviour of the person wearing it. It is based on the “narrative transportation theory”, which accredits the power of storytelling to the cognitive ability to experience empathy, and the “enclothed cognition theory”, a fairly recent study that found that the symbolic meaning of the clothes we wear can affect our thinking, feeling and acting.

Before LCF… I did my BA at the University of Maastricht in European Studies. I then did a stint in Brussels with the European Union institutions before moving to Berlin to work in film, communication and marketing for different communication agencies.

Top tips for prospective students… LCF is an amazing environment where students are encouraged and supported to take what they learn in their courses and apply it to real world problems.

  • My first tip would be to make use of all the mentoring and support you can get, whether it is to meet your professors regularly, or reach out to any of the other centres like the Centre for Sustainable Fashion or the Centre for Fashion Enterprise. Asking for help is key to moving forward, don’t wait until you feel you are “ready”.
  • My second piece of advice is to consider the offer of extracurricular lectures and events and use these to broaden your interests and to network, both with professionals and with students from other courses.
  • Finally, if you are ambitious like me, then it may feel like the time you have at LCF is much too short and a certain “fear of missing out” might creep in. Focus on what you actually enjoy doing and invest your time into those things, rather than into what may seem like the right thing.

I chose LCF because… it is the only school in the world offering Fashion Psychology as a subject. For a number of years I had been writing a blog on fashion and I didn’t know where to position it. I was writing about sustainability, but not necessarily through an environmental lens. I am interested in fashion sustainability in a much broader sense: in the human side of fashion and the way fashion affects every sphere of society, regardless of whether we are aware if it or not. When I watched an interview on Vogue with Carolyn Mair, the head of the Fashion Psychology department at LCF, I felt like I had finally found a name for what I was passionate about and decided to apply.

Photography: Timothy Achumba Art Direction: Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein Featuring various designers (Études, ffixxed, Vladimir Karaleev, Goetze) Model: Don Aretino Blog: http://aesthetic-couture.com/

Photography: Timothy Achumba, Art Direction: Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein, Featuring various designers (Études, ffixxed, Vladimir Karaleev, Goetze), Model: Don Aretino, Blog: Phaedis.com

The highlight of my course… Taking part in the course is an incredible experience, mostly because you are surrounded by incredibly intelligent, like-minded people with very different backgrounds and interests. This makes for very interesting discussions. It is a stimulating and inspiring environment. The MA was just right for me, because I found that the theoretical knowledge was very applicable to my everyday practice working in fashion. Even though I’m trained in psychology, I don’t want to become a psychologist. I would rather go back into the fashion industry and apply my knowledge there.

The most challenging thing about the course… was definitely the fact that fashion psychology is still very untouched, which means that in the lectures we were mostly taught psychology and had to make our own connections to fashion. Making these connections became easier the more I read and the more I focused on my area of interest only, instead of trying to understand everything. The course is kept very broad and general, as it intends to be relevant for students from very different backgrounds and areas of interest.

My favourite thing about studying in London… is the inspiration I get from a very vibrant and multi-cultural environment, where all are welcome and accepted. I also like how fast-paced the city is, it keeps me on my feet.

During my time at LCF… I launched my own business in the first month of starting my studies, called Phaedis. It is a commercial storytelling platform partnering with fashion designers to sell their last pieces from previous collections. This has allowed me to network with different designers in London and get to know the industry here better.

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Photography: Timothy Achumba, Art Direction: Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein, Blog: Phaedis.com

My work in five words… vulnerable – thought-provoking – personal – relevant – engaging.

My biggest inspiration… is German chancellor Angela Merkel. She inspires me because she has the backbone to stick to her decisions and her values, regardless of whether that makes her popular or liked by people. Because of that she is able to make tough decisions. She is also very diplomatic and always finds a graceful way to express her beliefs without getting too emotional. She cares more for the well-being of people than for her own brief moments of fame.

After my MA… I would like to work as a consultant with fashion companies, bringing to the table my expertise in human rights, branding and communication, fashion psychology and technology. I want to continue writing about fashion psychology and I want to grow our commercial platform Phaedis and turn it into an app. My husband and I eventually want to start our own agency, using fashion and technology to help people change culture.

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Photography: Timothy Achumba, Art Direction: Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein, Blog: Phaedis.com

LCF is moving to Stratford… I think has its pros and cons. I live near Shoreditch and I am a huge fan of east London. It has a very creative vibe. Having the park nearby is a plus – I believe peace and tranquillity are conducive to creativity and Oxford Circus can be very loud and stressful. That can be a distraction during class and while studying sometimes and getting home in the evening is definitely a pain due to traffic in the tube. On the other hand, being at Oxford Circus means being in the middle of London’s fashion circus and not too far away from all the luxury stores as well. It is very lively and central and I would definitely miss it.

*The above photos were taken from two stories that were produced for Phaedis. In each story the person presented in the editorial shares their personal experience of overcoming challenges and receiving a second chance. Each story is also a partnership with a fashion designer and features last pieces from previous collections, which can be purchased via the online shop. The overall theme is that people (and fashion/design) are valuable and deserve a second chance. The full stories are accessible via Phaedis.com