Lucy Siegel\’s new book

Blimey, it\’s amazing what these writer types manage to find out, isn\’t it?

In July 2001 sales of clothing and footwear in the UK were up on the previous year by 12%, the highest annual rate of growth since the mid-1970s. But in real terms the price of clothes had fallen dramatically. This is the point at which the dark side of the fast-fashion alchemy kicks in. Between 1996 and 2000 clothing prices fell each year, and in the epoch-defining year of high sales, 2001, they fell by 6%. In the four years from 2003 to 2007 average prices in retail fashion fell by 10%. We were simply spending less and buying more.

Seriously, who would have thought it? As something becomes cheaper people buy more of it?

Really quite remarkable: you would have thought that as something becomes cheaper people would still only buy the amount they need and then save the extra money to spend on something else. Or give it away to starving picanninies or something.

How could it be true that cheaper clothing means that we\’d happily buy more clothing?

We\’ll have to set up a proper study of this you know, try and get a few of those thinkers in the ivory towers onto it. It\’s such a startling finding about the economy that, umm, well, what should we call it, umm, yes, we\’re talking about fashion, so, yes, \”\”elastic\” seems to be a good word to use. The amount of clothing we buy is \”elastic\” with respect to the price of clothing maybe?

No, this is much too important to be left lying in some book about fashion, really, we need to get some of our best brains onto this subject.

My word, we really ought to set up some sort of a prize for Ms. Siegel here. Such a startling finding. Is there any of Alf Nobel\’s money still lying around? Maybe we could divert some of that to encourage people to investigate this new field, how price changes seem, remarkably, to change what people are willing to buy?

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