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Bespoke Goods

Merriam-Websters defines bespoke as custom-made. We might broadly define bespoke goods as the hand made or labor intensive product of any art or craft, a product that might be replaced at a lower price by a mass produced substitute.

In the context of economics, especially theory of value, that would mean bespoke goods are akin to Veblen Goods in that the pleasure or use a consumer gets from them depends on them being rare, or at least comparatively high in price.

Thorstein Veblen, (who obviously lent his name to Veblen Goods) would probably say that consumers chose bespoke goods over some lower-priced industrial version because owning the handmade is a way for the consumer to display conspicuous consumption or its cousin, conspicuous leisure.

That answer seems incomplete to us - take a consumer who has three choices, a set of cheap and utilitarian dishes, a set of expensive dishes trimmed with gold leaf, or a set of handmade dishes from a potter. The hand thrown pots and the gold trimmed plates might both demonstrate conspicuous consumption, but their appeal (their value to the consumer) is clearly different.

Maybe consumers can feel more of a connection to things they know the history of. Maybe they get some satisfaction from supporting artisans. Be that as it may, some subjective theories of value like those of Veblen or Mike Benedikt suggest that bespoke goods should become more popular once industrial products reach a saturation point, in other words where they are cheap enough for everyone to afford.

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analysis/economics/value/bespoke_goods.txt · Last modified: 2010/05/16 17:36 by ram