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Orderly Fashion

Orderly Fashion: A Sociology of Markets

Patrik Aspers
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Orderly Fashion
    Book Description:

    For any market to work properly, certain key elements are necessary: competition, pricing, rules, clearly defined offers, and easy access to information. Without these components, there would be chaos.Orderly Fashionexamines how order is maintained in the different interconnected consumer, producer, and credit markets of the global fashion industry. From retailers in Sweden and the United Kingdom to producers in India and Turkey, Patrik Aspers focuses on branded garment retailers--chains such as Gap, H&M, Old Navy, Topshop, and Zara. Aspers investigates these retailers' interactions and competition in the consumer market for fashion garments, traces connections between producer and consumer markets, and demonstrates why market order is best understood through an analysis of its different forms of social construction.

    Emphasizing consumption rather than production, Aspers considers the larger retailers' roles as buyers in the production market of garments, and as potential objects of investment in financial markets. He shows how markets overlap and intertwine and he defines two types of markets--status markets and standard markets. In status markets, market order is related to the identities of the participating actors more than the quality of the goods, whereas in standard markets the opposite holds true.

    Looking at how identities, products, and values create the ordered economic markets of the global fashion business,Orderly Fashionhas wide implications for all modern markets, regardless of industry.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3518-8
    Subjects: Economics, Sociology, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The purpose of this book is to study social order in the global fashion industry. The issue of order entails the question: Why is social life not in chaos? But instead of addressing the question of order head on, which would be naïve due to its complexity, I have chosen to zoom in on branded garment retailers—that is, chains that sell clothes to consumers—to investigate order in relation to their activities in markets. It is the order of the branded garment retailers (BGRs) and the markets in which they operate that is the central empirical object of this...

  5. Chapter 1 Garment Sellers in Consumer Markets
    (pp. 11-33)

    The purpose of this chapter is to begin the analysis of order in the final consumer market, focusing on the different kinds of fashion garment sellers. But what is a market? I definemarketas a social structure for the exchange of rights in which offers are evaluated and priced, and compete with one another. This means at least three actors are needed for a market to exist: at least one actor on one side of the market, who is aware of at least two actors on the other side whose offers can be evaluated in relation to each other...

  6. Chapter 2 Affordable Fashion
    (pp. 34-61)

    Ideally, we should investigate the historical development of the market in which the BGRs face final consumers. This would enable us to see how the different social constructions became entrenched—for example, how the garment firms gained their positions, and how it came about that the BGR market has grown more rapidly than the other garment markets I have described (cf. Braham 1997: 149–61). Here, I have a less ambitious goal, however: to explain the BGRs’ consumer market by studying its components and how they are related to each other. Although the empirical research starts from the situation of...

  7. Chapter 3 Entrenching Identities
    (pp. 62-93)

    The purpose of this chapter is to analyze how the identities of those on one side of this market—the branded garment retailers—become entrenched. An identity can in principle be generated in a market if a firm’s activities acquire coherence over time by means of a narrative. The identity that an actor acquires in one particular partial order in which they are evaluated I calldiscrete identity. This suggests that a BGR can have several discrete identities. But this is exactly the point. BGRs share a collective identity in terms of which they differentiate amongst themselves in terms of...

  8. Chapter 4 Branded Garment Retailers in the Production Market
    (pp. 94-124)

    The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the market in which BGRs operate as buyers of garments and in which garment manufacturers operate as sellers. Thus, when BGRs turn around to act as buyers in the producer market for garments, they face manufacturers. Our analysis therefore concerns how BGRs operate in a business-to-business market—that is, one in which they face other firms. I continue the strategy of the last three chapters and discuss interrelated evaluations, zooming in on the production market from the perspective of the buyers. The analysis therefore includes not only BGRs but also garment manufacturers....

  9. Chapter 5 Manufacturing Garments in the Global Market
    (pp. 125-146)

    The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the market for garment production from the perspective of the sellers—that is, the manufacturers. In this way, we can get an even better understanding of this market in which BGRs face garment manufacturers. It also makes it possible to analyze the global dimension of this industry, and the extent to which this is a global market. Manufacturers’ market identities derive from their commitments as producers and their interactions with retailers. I have already argued that this market is ordered according to the principle of standards, relating to the price/quality/delivery scale. In...

  10. Chapter 6 Branded Garment Retailers in the Investment Market
    (pp. 147-164)

    The purpose of this chapter is to analyze order in the market in which investors evaluate branded garment retailers. This involves a switch in perspectives: the BGRs are still at the center of the analysis, but I do not view them from the perspective of consumers or of their suppliers, but from that of their investors. Seen in terms of the final consumer market, investor markets are clearly “behind the scenes.” Most consumers, unless they also own stocks, are probably little interested in relations between the BGRs and the investors who control them. Consequently, the average consumer does not know...

  11. Chapter 7 Markets as Partial Orders
    (pp. 165-174)

    This final chapter has two purposes. The first is to discuss the findings of the book and thereby put the study in the context of, and in relation to, the existing literature. The second is to discuss the idea of order and most of all partial orders. This means, more concretely, asking in what way markets and non-markets are embedded in each other. This chapter discusses more generally how partial orders are interrelated. I begin by summarizing the findings of the study, and then I turn to the question of partial orders.

    The central question of this book is order,...

  12. Appendix I Empirical Material and Methods
    (pp. 175-180)
  13. Appendix II Garment Trade Statistics
    (pp. 181-184)
  14. Appendix III The Garment Industry
    (pp. 185-190)
  15. Appendix IV Economic Sociology
    (pp. 191-194)
  16. Appendix V Fashion Theory and Research
    (pp. 195-200)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 201-212)
  18. References
    (pp. 213-234)
  19. Index
    (pp. 235-237)