Aug 31, 2009

Crisis and Clothes

When I was at the UCR in 1994 a text in a book said that the lenght of women's skirts moved with the economical cycles. Longer skirts for the crisis-struck years and shorter for the good years. The graphic seemed funny and the correlation between the two seemed to be quite symetric, but then again, I'm not going to spend my professional life by tape measuring my skirts and those in the fashion magazines. Besides, some things didn't add up.

This theory went forgotten until today I read in the Washington Post an article tying the crisis to yet another item of clothing, only this time it wasn't to skirts and their lenght but to men briefs. The article said that the sale's of briefs or men underwear are sensitive to hard times, this because when the hard times strike men try to make their briefs last longer. Now, if you think about it, it's not such a strange thing: in a crisis people will try and stretch their pennies, nickels and dimes. What makes some things more sensitive to income restrictions or the idea of a bad economical period ahead are the way people relay to things, how important and needed they are. We call that "elasticity". There are several elasticities, depending what's the "changing" element you measure the change of the quantity of the purchased good. So, in the end, not only your husband's or your boyfriend's briefs tell you about how deep in the crisis we are, but also many other things. Just pay attention to the things you put in your cart the next time you go shopping for the groceries. Maybe less of those "lean cuisine" boxes and fancy teas and things, more of the basics. Flour, sugar, rice, simpler, less perishable cheese, milk, margarine rather than butter. Less cadies, more oatmeal, less bottled water because you use more the one flowing from the fawcet.

At the same time, you know, when you are going more frugal in these crisis times, if you stop to think for a minute, you realize that you can be happy and get all you need with less. You don't need all those products, you don't need all those brands and all those things because you can make it with less. Crisis is bad, but perhaps we could lift something goof from it: consumer rationality.

Being wastefull and lavish can bring us to personal crisis, hole up our finances, but then, what does our compulsive buying, irrational consuming habits do to our environment? Well, it can pulls us all together into crisis... like it did it now. So, can we take the chance and the lesson and bring it with us for the happier, richer times to?

No comments: