Markets in everything the culture that is Japan

by on March 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm in Economics | Permalink

Authentic Japan Airline outfits sell for as much as £11,000 on the black market.

The explanation for the high price is here.  If you read the final sentence of the article you will see that this is perhaps one of the few prices that rises with deflation.

For the pointer I thank Ryan Briggs.

1 enrique March 4, 2010 at 12:15 am

another hypothesis is that the inflated price of the JAL uniforms reflects a kind of bubble, like the famous tullip bubble or the more recent dot-com and housing bubbles

2 R March 4, 2010 at 1:46 am

Costumes are a big part of Japan’s culture. I highly doubt all the parties who would be interested in purchasing these uniforms represent the “sex industry”, but the article doesn’t cite any sources on that, so it’s difficult to make a direct argument. I don’t imagine these very high prices being paid for the uniforms of prostitutes who earn much lower wages (and would have a higher risk of damaging the uniforms) than I do entertainers or escorts which earn far higher wages and do not provide sex.

3 H March 4, 2010 at 2:43 am

@Ricardo: I (potentially) disagree. You are assuming a high cross-elasticity between genuine uniforms and knock offs. However, if the very fact that something is genuine increases the utility it grants, then cross-elasticity would be low.

(Let me know if I’m misunderstanding what you said).

4 azmyth March 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

I don’t see why JAL doesn’t just openly sell them. They could price out the black market while still keeping the quantitly low enough for the price to be high. It’s a perfect monopoly situation for them.

5 Ryan March 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

@azmyth: That’s a really good question azmyth. In Japan, a flight attendant is a highly coveted job. Especially for the old companies, flight attendants go through rigorous training and are considered the elite of the service industry. There is a significant amount of pride with being a flight attendant and I would think the uniform is an important keepsake.

Hence people buying these uniforms aren’t just buying a style; they are in a way buying the identity of a flight attendant.

I think JAL and ex-employees want to protect that identity. Plus, I don’t think there is that much money in it for JAL. At this price, the quantity being sold is probably very small. That is partly what is interesting about this article–that JAL has been able to restrict the quantity on the market in the face of extremely high prices.

6 Paul December 16, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Yes, anyone could make JAL uniforms. But these would not be authentic. According to an article in Wallpaper, uniforms that have been stained in some way are far more desirable. They appeal is that they’ve been worn by an actual JAL stewardess. Why else would someone pay these prices? It’s the same reason the previously-worn panties are sold for more than those at the department store.

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