Wednesday 23, Sep 2020, Delhi (India)
According to data by World Health Organisation(WHO), almost 8,00,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is 1 person every 40 seconds and the survey further depicts that India and China account for 40% or more of the annual suicide deaths globally. This topic of mental health raised as yet again a pall of gloom descended on all of us, the demise of Bollywood celebrity Sushant Singh Rajput left the entire world to open their eyes and talk about mental illness. Although we don’t have direct access to the inner workings of the mind of someone who has passed away, there is much evidence that the thought processes are often gravely disordered by the effects of trauma, mental health conditions, and substance abuse. Talking about mental illness for some, the high-end fashion industry can be highly stressful, competitive, and critical. Most models of the Indian fashion industry and famous fashion designers of India are portrayed as the “tortured artists”, someone who adorns and creates dark clothing. It emphasizes on appearance, the fashion industry in India heavily focuses on appearance, and it has further created stereotypes of its own. The fashion industry in India is known as a fast-paced, high-end fashion world full of glamour and glitz. Thus, the question arises; what happens when the runway goes dark? I Knock Fashion understands that if a person can’t think rationally due to impairment of the mind, the decision clearly is not a choice, keeping that in mind today we are here to talk about what exactly happens when the spotlight fades.
The fast-paced, high-end fashion nature could be one of the numerous contributing factors to the higher-than-average amount of mental health disorders among people associated with the fashion industry in India. Earlier, the time between seasons or collections used to be around 6 months, now with globalization, a fashion cycle lasts only around 3 weeks. The reason behind this decreased duration between collections is mostly due to the high-end fashion and fast fashion cycle. The well-celebrated fast fashion brands like H&M and Forever21 are constantly mass-producing clothing in economically developing countries or underdeveloped countries to keep the production cheap and ensuring they end up with quantity over quality. The famous fashion designers of India who create high-end fashion or couture take more time to design and produce their collections because somewhere they preach quality above quantity. It’s not that easy as said, these famous fashion designers of India and across the world are always in this constant pressure of production. The high pressure, expectation, and an impractical workload all together turn out to be a deadly combination further leading to destruction, causing numerous famous fashion designer of India to fear to say no to a project, considering it to be a sign of weakness and missing out on an opportunity. All these factors further lead them to misuse drugs and alcohol and develop mental health disorders. As the scientist states, creative people tend to constantly think more about fine details, making connections, and replaying images and scenes in their head. Although musing can facilitate people to create and produce original work, musing in all aspects of life can be damaging to a person’s mental health. Going over precisely fine details in every aspect of life can lead to feelings of depression.
As the fashion industry in India is constantly pressurizing the designers to create, it further develops mental health disorders. To become famous, fashion designers of India and models of the Indian fashion industry might also start indulging themselves in finding comfort in drugs and alcohol. Numerous models of the India fashion industry and the outer world have sought treatment for addiction at rehab facilities, they say running with stylist and fashion people they would spend nights drinking, partying, and socializing for better connections in the Industry. Although some people from the fashion industry in India find pressure as an essential aspect to be more productive, the rest don’t find the pressure to be enjoyable or productive. In fact, they consider it to be damaging to their mental health. The saying “one day you’re in and the next you’re out”, is apt when it comes to the fashion industry as this constant greed to create out of the box collections, leads to depression and once you stop creating, you’re forgotten.
Especially in India treating depression has typically been unfamiliar territory for the society. In the country, people don’t really get what depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts can feel like until they themselves are sailing through it. While it may appear that people committing suicide are not taking into consideration the impact that their death will have on loved ones, there is much evidence on the contrary. The mind of a person with suicidal ideation is distorted and often holds the belief that he/she will be lessening their burden on loved ones by no longer being around. Below mentioned are some of the tragic demises from the fashion industry.
⁃ Kate Spade was found in her Manhattan apartment hanging from a scarf, it was stated by her sister that she had been suffering from her mental health for years.
⁃ In 2014, designer L’wren Scott was found dead in her Apartment. She as well suffered from depression for years, there was a three-year scholarship fund announced in Scott’s name for fashion students at the London-based design school, Central Saint Martins.
⁃ A top model and former Miss Mauritius, Viveka Babajee, took her life in her Bandra apartment.
⁃ In 2010, Alexander McQueen’s attempted suicide, and it was said that he did a lot of drugs and was very unhappy.
⁃ Isabella Blow after a lifetime of struggling with mental health disorders ingested a weed killer during a house party.
Creating an out of the box fashion cycle typically involves the need for experimentation, it is a process that is time-intensive, laborious, and often mentally draining. Each fashion designer or student must, therefore, figure out their preferred learning environment. The fear of failure must be decreased among the industry, as this pressure can result in hard-to-attain expectations on oneself, leading to a self-destructive outcome on one’s mental health.
As the fashion students move out of college applying for jobs after graduation this leads to another pressure. Interning while graduating is an important aspect today in the world of fashion, which leads to further pressure of dedicating yourself to that fully as well as going to school.
In the past few years, people have been obsessing over social media and mainly influencers. Their rapidly growing fashion-focused Instagram accounts, as soon as it gains attention, that’s all they can think about. No matter if they are making money from it or not, they keep wondering if their followers like their pictures. They start putting too much weight into who is following or viewing their accounts. It’s been observed that social media overrules them to such an extent that they actually worry about how a post is performing online instead of working on themselves in real life. This pressure of making a brand of themselves on social media leads to anxiety and further depression. This is the reason some of the upcoming influencers decided to quit Instagram, as this stress of coming up with perfect content all the time actually makes them feel pressurized and stressed.
The question is how many tragedies must occur before people in fashion address the pressure that the industry prolongs?
There’s no denial in stating that the pressure begins as early as fashion or design school. In the past few years, the fashion students have reported that instructors made them feel guilty if they weren’t creating, producing, or working constantly 24*7. This is the major reason that fashion student suicide rates and mental health disorders are increasing. According to a speculated report employees in creative careers like fashion are 25% more likely to experience and develop mental health disorders. The fashion models, designers, and other professionals in the fashion industry are usually subjugated to long working hours and high-stress to meet demanding production deadlines.
The increasing suicides among the fashion industry have led to the unveiling of the unpublicized history of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The student suicide rates and mental health issues within the fashion industry are also on the rise. It’s high time that there should be discussions taking place for how much pressure is already apparent in the industry. The industry is highly competitive and designers, models, and fashion journalists are in constant competition. This new era of fashion influencers is also responsible for increasing the competition and stress for creating out of the box content. Although few initiatives are already being taken to create a safer working environment in the industry, such as Model’s Health Pledge which looks forward to supporting the fashion model’s mental health. There’s a charter by Kering and LVMH that bans ultra-thin fashion models from marketing and runways to ensure their well-being.
It’s a fact, designers and models involved in fashion have also been known for developing mental health disorders. According to you what could be the exact reason behind it?
The problem could be that creative people such as designers are more vulnerable to depression due to musing. Science says that the people who are less creative are more likely to accept what they are told by authorities and look at situations in simpler terms. The people who are full of creativity view the world more complexly. This highly competitive and critical industry of fashion can be too much for some, but this can be turned around. The fashion designers can choose to skip the world of fashion in a less tragic way, with a proper medication of course. This high-end fashion cycle can be skipped by moving from fast fashion production to only couture. The fashion designers can make their own personal rules of showcasing and releasing collections, they can present their collections only when they feel that it’s complete. And as quoted by Scottish fashion designer, Christopher Kane, “Fashion lies not in the pace of producing collections but in an alliance between the creative and commercial cannons”.
The fashion cycle should be redefined and there should be less hustling on unrealistic expectations, the world needs to understand how damaging these expectations can be. Every designer and fashion student should be able to work in a healthy environment and not feel pressured to create and produce. What are your feelings about the same?
Do let us know in the comment section and stay tuned with I Knock Fashion for further fashion and beauty related updates.