My Master's thesis was a project I actually quite enjoyed. I wrote a thesis on unisex fashion through the lens of consumer behaviour – which in the beginning lended itself to myriad questions and interpretations on what exactly unisex means when looked at through a psychology perspective. Originally, I thought of unisex as a type of clothing – frocks that were made to be worn by anyone regardless of sex and then put in special unisex places that were also made to be visited and shopped at by anyone regardless of sex. This, I found, was already being challenged on social media by various people and online by fashion people I knew or followed. "Clothes have no gender" was the motto I began to think about – next came figuring out if there was a way to tackle this within the scope of a Masters Thesis in Applied Psychology.
The full content of that thesis is a longer story for another time, however what I can share is the position I decided to adopt for the first third of that research project. After various talks and debates with my wonderful thesis supervisor, Dr. Aurore Bardey, we landed on some interesting ideas that we couldn't find answers to: If marketing studies and disruptive media (see Amed & Berg, 2022; Tsjeng, 2016) are claiming that only between 45 - 55 % of younger people (Gen Z and Millennials) exclusively purchase fashion items designed for their gender – then what makes the other crowd purchase at the opposite genders' section? How is this shopping experience lived? How are the purchasing decisions made? And how are the products used?
We couldn't really find any information on the matter specifically save for a few studies from the 1980's and 1990's, so we had to start from scratch: qualitatively looking at specific cases in this unisex behaving population to extrapolate generalisable ideas that we could then test out quantitatively. Though I stretched out further in my thesis, after graduation we tried publishing this complex exploratory mixed-methods approach, but were rejected for lack of a solid foundation. We then decided to build a stronger foundation with a more thorough qualitative approach and focusing exclusively on cisgender women (the still globally largest consumer group for fashion) that engaged in what we now call cross-sexual shopping behaviour. We also got Dr. Jekaterina Rogaten involved in the process to make sure we kept our views grounded and that we didn't lose our tracks due to our familiarity with the project.
Next came finding the right journal – one that would accept qualitative methods and that had an interest in fashion and consumer psychology. This was the next challenge where Dr Bardey was the shining star for me. Consumer psychology journals found the matter too marketing-related. Marketing journals found it too fashion-oriented and fashion journals also found it too commerce-related. We found two prospect journals that fit the bill after about two years of submitting, editing and re-submitting. We got a positive review from the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management with the caveat of some revisions pointed out after peer-review. Two reviews and two more revisions later, and some emails from dear Aurore to the editing team – the paper has been published. From 2019 - 2022, this has been an interesting process that I want to get more familiar with. I hope to start a PhD in Administrative Science with a focus on Consumer Behaviour next year, where I'll want to dig deeper and further into this topic. The first publication, "Beyond the gender dichotomy in fashion: Exploring the factors involved in cross-sexual fashion consumer behaviour for cisgender women" is now available online before print for the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management. I aim to conduct future studies that will look at other populations that I have only glossed over in my MSc thesis, like cisgendered men, gender-fluid individuals, and transgender men and women.
For the moment, my first academic publication can be found at
And check out the publication that made headway for this paper: Exploring the third gender in fashion – for which I contributed an illustration that made it to the cover of the Fashion Practice journal ;)
Amed, I., Berg, A. (2022, November 30). The state of fashion 2023: Resilience in the face of uncertainty. The Business of Fashion. https://www.businessoffashion.com/reports/news-analysis/the-state-of-fashion-2023-industry-report-bof-mckinsey/
Tsjeng, Z. (2016, March 10). Teens these days are queer AF, new study says. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/kb4dvz/teens-these-days-are-queer-af-new-study-says