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A Theory of Fashion Based on Segmented Communication

  • Giacomo Corneo

    (University of Bonn)

  • Olivier Jeanne


Fashion is a popular style of behavior at a given time or place. In this paper we model fashion as a dynamic phenomenon, characterized by fragility of mass behvior and life cycles. Conformity of behavior is generated by a consumption externality, while the typical intertemporal aspects of fashion are the outcome of segmented communication: knowledge about available actions is imperfect and there exists social segregation in the way knowledge is generated and transmitted. The proposed approach is consistent with views of sociologists and marketing experts about fashion.

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Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Discussion Paper Serie A with number 462.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonsfa:462
Contact details of provider: Postal: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany
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  1. Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1995. "Design Innovation and Fashion Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 771-92, September.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1991. "A Note on Restaurant Pricing and Other Examples of Social Influences on Price," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1109-16, October.
  3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  4. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1993. "The Economics of Rumours," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 309-27, April.
  6. George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Karni, Edi & Levin, Dan, 1994. "Social Attributes and Strategic Equilibrium: A Restaurant Pricing Game," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 822-40, August.
  8. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  9. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  10. Coelho, Philip R P & McClure, James E, 1993. "Toward an Economic Theory of Fashion," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(4), pages 595-608, October.
  11. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David, 1990. "Fixed Preferences and Changing Tastes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 262-67, May.
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