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Toward an Economic Theory of Fashion

Philip Coelho () and James McClure

Economic Inquiry, 1993, vol. 31, issue 4, 595-608

Abstract: Competition for rank within animal societies is an innate drive recognized in sociobiological and evolutionary theory. In human societies, fashion signals social rank or status. The authors extend standard economic theories of competitive and noncompetitive markets to analyze fashion by including the status-seeking incentive. In the competitive case, the conditions under which fashion cycles occur are examined. In the noncompetitive case, producers of fashion services discriminate between customers intertemporally to sustain the fashionability of their services. Unlike the standard models of fashion that populate marketing textbooks, the authors' theory of fashion does not require that demand curves slope upward. Copyright 1993 by Oxford University Press.

Date: 1993
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