No. 1 (2023)

Beyond the Aesthete: Transforming the Role of the Fashion Designer in an Emergent Social Construct

Steven Faerm
Parsons School of Design
first number yellow cover of fashion highlight journal with black logo

Published 2023-06-30


  • Fashion Design,
  • Generation Z,
  • Fashion System,
  • Consumer Behavior,
  • Sustainability

How to Cite

Faerm, S. (2023). Beyond the Aesthete: Transforming the Role of the Fashion Designer in an Emergent Social Construct. Fashion Highlight, (1), 38–47.


The role of the fashion designer must transform. The fashion marketplace has reached unprecedented levels of abundance, thus altering society’s relationship with design. Consumers’ basic needs are overmet and have surpassed the material realm; consumers are increasingly driven by their search for emotional fulfillment via design. This emerging behavior is pivoting the perception of design “value” from the tangible to the intangible. While traditional values of function and aesthetics remain fundamental, a design’s capacity to deliver “emotional value” to consumers must become the focus of design practice. This requires a transformation of the designer’s traditional role. Rather than creating from myopic biases, they must research consumers’ psychographics to “design emotion.” This new role—the “Designer-As- Social Scientist”—takes a holistic view of consumers’ needs. The designer’s transformed role will result in products having greater emotional value, enhanced product sustainability, and businesses increasing consumer loyalty and resultant sales by offering only those products that are truly desired by their target audience.


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