Do We Judge People On Their Fashion, Or Vice Versa?

We’re constantly absorbing data about the fashion choices of people around us, for better or worse.

Erin Flood
Jan 17 · 3 min read

Fashion is fascinating and constantly changing. Arguably, fashion is one of the most data-dependent industries and has been for a very long time.

Look around, consider your current surrounding. Are you at home? In public? Is your current location busy? Quiet? What items are in your direct line of sight? If it happens to be people, what are they wearing? Can you find similarities in how they are dressed? In the brands they have on?

Each time you see similarities, make a note, for example: “I see three people wearing Blundstone boots”.

If you are at home, can you find similarities in the products and brands in your direct line of sight? For example, are you wearing a t-shirt? Is it H&M? Gap? What about your coat rack? Patagonia? Eddie Bauer?


You’ve just conducted what us data nerds call a “data ethnography” study. It’s not rocket science to tell you that the brands you buy are aligned directly with how you want the world to view you.

Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Patagonia, LL Bean, Arcteryx

Are you a believer in ethically sourced, sustainable products? Mat & Nat

Are you in a profession that requires top-notch professional wear on the daily? Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor

Are you into keeping up with the latest trends while maintaining a modest budget? H&M, Uniqlo

Are you an avid yoga go-er? Lululemon, Lolë

Do you believe in buying that gives back to the world in some shape or form? TOMS, TenTree, Wear Your Label

You get where I’m going with this. We buy certain brands to help ourselves feel better and to use as a tool to help the rest of the world navigate who we are and what beliefs systems we have as people.

If you did conduct your own data ethnography study earlier, then you likely also made note of top brands, and ignored the ones that were either unrecognizable to you or spotted much less frequently than others. The human mind naturally organizes hierarchies, all of the time. And these hierarchies are usually dictated by exposure, whether we like to admit it or not, but the reality is:

Greater Exposure= Greater Status

So, whether we want to place the sustainably sourced brands at the top of our list or not, the frequency of exposure to a brand or product will first subconsciously rank it for you.

Here’s a photo I’ve taken from one of Stewart’s social media pages. How many data points can you point out?

Comment all the brands you can spot and we’ll discuss how this affects our perception of our peers.


Making data useful.