Fashion Economics


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As an informed citizen of Nigeria, it’s no secret that we are facing one of the direst economic situations in our beloved country. It has seeped in and affected all aspects of our lives and it’s clear that shopping (for most of us) has become increasingly hard to reconcile with other monetary obligations. There are ways to help maximize our wardrobes potential by following some easy economic terms and guidelines. Don’t panic just yet fashionistas! I shall tread carefully and not use the dreaded words “budget” and “rules”. Stay with me.

The first and most important thing to understand is the positive marginal utility. This describes a favorable gain from an increase in the consumption or use of a product. Tying this concept to our wardrobes, simply put, means you can wear the same article of clothing in many different ways and still be stylish.

Take a navy blue blazer for example. Dress it up with a shirt and bow tie or dress it down with a long sleeve t-Shirt. Buttoning it up or leaving it unbuttoned also creates a different look. One Blazer has already given you 4 fresh looks following those little tips. Now, what other articles of clothing can accomplish such versatility in your closet? A few options are white button-down shirts, coffee brown or tan shoes, a well-tailored black blazer and of course a very flattering pair of jeans with a median wash (not too light, not too dark)

Another economic term we can add to our fashion policy is adaptive expectation which means using information from the past and learning from mistakes to make a better-informed economic decision. In this case, it’s about trends. I’m sure you’ve noticed how some trends either always come back in style or some never leave. If you have, in the past, been quick to get rid of pieces of clothing, discarding them as a fashion fad, now is the time take a beat and ask your self if there are other ways to rock this piece. Will this fashion article come back in style? Can this stand the test of time? I mean, its 2016 and I’m wearing vintage shirts from the late 80’s! You never know what the fashion gods gave planned.

When shopping it helps to do a quick cost-benefit analysis, which is essentially a pros and cons list. You have to ask yourself a couple of questions to nudge you in the right direction. How much is this shopping escapade going to cost me? What are the benefits of buying these clothes (other than looking fabulous)? Can these articles mix and match well with my wardrobe? Will I have buyer’s remorse (that sinking feeling you get when you get home after shopping where you judge yourself severely for buying something that you know you had no business buying, but all for the sake of fabulous, you did anyway, and now you feel super irresponsible and your new boots can’t console you at night)? These are all important questions to ask yourself before bringing out your pocket book and causing damage.

“Your mix and match game better be a hunnid.” How good are you at matching different pieces in your wardrobe? Can your suits be wearable separates? How confident are you that when you mix and match articles of different, fabric, color and fit, you assume the look of “bonafide-fashionista” and not “Crayola disaster”. With great power comes great responsibility. If you want to extend your wardrobe two-fold without buying new clothes, then you have to mix and match responsibly.

As important as it is to know when to keep things in your closet, it’s more important to know when to throw them away. If you know that wearing something one more time will not give you the same satisfaction as it had done previous times, it’s time to say goodbye. The economic term for that is diminishing marginal returns or utility. It’s kind of like keeping in touch with an ex; I mean, if after some time, every conversation post-breakup adds little to no value to you and ends up subtracting from the post-breakup growth process it might be time to cease all contact and communication. That’s how you should look at your clothes. By hanging on to this, am I stunting the growth of my inner fashionable spirit? These are the hard-hitting questions.

Have you made good wardrobe investments? I know for a fact that most people buy designer duds solely for the name. A select few, splurge on expensive shoes or bags because of the durability and in some cases, for its timeless aesthetic. While economics is about being somewhat frugal and making sound decisions on expenditure, I am saying it’s certainly okay to splurge. Make sure you do so having thought it through.

Last, but certainly not the least, buy locally. There has been a significant emergence of Nigerian brands that are making ready-to-wear pieces more affordable. Find a brand that possesses your style aesthetic and invite them into your wardrobe. A few to mention are 87 Origins, Orange Culture, Tzar, Maju, TNL and Sisiano. Get familiar with our local talent and you won’t have to look far for good fashion. Also, think of all the money you’ll save on international shipping (for those that frequent international retail sites)

Yes, economics is the social science that basically shows how we, as humans, utilize our finite resources with unlimited demand. While our closet and daily engagements call for an unlimited amount of clothes, what can keep us above water and cater to our fashionable needs is following a few of the principles mentioned in this article. It may not necessarily be your thing now, but sooner or later you will realize that fashion economics is an important new trend and being a fiscally responsible fashionista can be just as rewarding as an over the top extravagant day at a luxury department store.

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