Allowing consumers to purchase items straight from the runway transforms the catwalk from a show space into a retail environment. What does Psychology have to say about the runway music choices designers should be making to secure sales?

In September, we witnessed the end of fashion month Spring Summer 17 where brands across the four fashion capitals heeded the industry’s call for less exclusivity and more immediacy -  the latter of which took shape in the form of ‘See Now Buy Now’.

When Karl Lagerfeld sent Cara Delevingne and Kendal Jenner strutting around ‘Chanel Supermarket’ with shopping trolleys and baskets for Autumn Winter 2014/15 he wasn’t making a statement - he was foreseeing the future.

​Rather than waiting for seasons to change, for buyers to make their decisions and for production to begin, brands like Burberry, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren showcased a series of seemingly season-less pieces that we could digitally purchase straight from the catwalk. In our age of increasing social connectivity See Now Buy Now allows brands to capitalise off the social media furore that comes with fashion week. With this new model, fashions reach is stretching even further but many are overlooking the implication the move will have on the framework of fashion weeks’ runway shows. 

...​what does Psychology have to say about the runway music choices designers should be making to secure sales?

Psychology suggests that allowing consumers to purchase items straight from the runway transforms the catwalk from a show space into a retail environment. If runways are slowly becoming the new shopping malls, then they need to be treated as such and that begins with changing atmospheric conditions to promote spending.

When out shopping, we’re often more focused on restocking our wardrobes than with the general atmosphere of the store but worldwide, retailers have demonstrated the use of various profit-making psychological tricks. For example, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King use red and yellow in their signage to induce feelings of hunger. Good lighting has also been shown to increase merchandise sales by up to 20% (Shahal, Shaghal & Sharma, 2016) with many attributing the dip in sales at US clothing brand Hollister to the low level store lighting that many find ‘intimidating’ and disorientating (Mullen & Stevens, 2013). However, one of the most important elements in any retail environment is music. 

Whether it’s via a brand partnership like Metallic x Brioni or a collaboration like Rihanna x Puma, the relationship between fashion and music is unyielding. When it comes to the catwalk the choice of music does not only play a significant role during a Victoria Secret show. Since the dawn of the runway, every show has begun with an outbreak of music perfectly selected to match the designers concept for the show (Skov, Skjold, Moeran, Larsen & Csaba, 2009) and this season, show-goers and online viewers alike watched models strut their stuff to the likes of  Temples at Tommy Hilfiger, Cerrone at Topshop Unique and Princess Nokia at Alexander Wang – cool tunes for cool clothes. But now that fashion lovers are seeing now, buying now and hearing now what does Psychology have to say about the runway music choices designers should be making to secure sales?


A study taking place in a women’s clothing store setting found that shopping intentions were greatest when subjects were exposed to happy music thatwas liked (Zurcher Wray & Nelson Hodges, 2016). Similarly, increased cognitive processing occurs when listening to liked music which can cause consumers to lose track of time when shopping (Block, 1990)

Psychology of Fashion’s Recommendation: TIEKS - Sunshine feat. Dan Harkna

Consumers have been shown to spend more time in a slow tempo retail environment (Milliman, 1982)

Psychology of Fashion’s Recommendation: Solange – Don’t Wish Me Well

Research has demonstrated that consumers spend more money and purchase more expensive items when classical music is played in the background in a retail setting (Areni & Kim, 1993)

Psychology of Fashion’s Recommendation: Antonio Vivaldi- The Four Seasons- Summer- Presto

Research has shown that individuals shop longer when exposed to unfamiliar music (Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000)

Psychology of Fashion’s Recommendation: Jodie Abacus - She's in Love With the Weekend

Dim the lights, dramatic pause and cue music!

​Music will always be a pivotal element on the runway even more so now than ever. So, instead of simply matching beats to mood boards designers need to think about how they’ll be converting their playlist into mean green

Think you have better recommendations? Sound off in the comment section below!

Author

Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a Fashion Psychologist and writer who has been featured in Marie Claire UK, i-D, Who What Wear, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Voice Newspaper, Gal-Dem, Black Matters US and more.

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