Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, June 29, 2015

Can I have a Gucci with that?

In the rich neighborhoods and malls of Iran's largest cities, the frustration of having money but little to buy is showing.

And, what, you ask, does that have to do with government and politics? Think sanctions, cleavages and the political culture. Oh, and corruption. What does this article imply about governance?

Why a luxury-shopping revolution is coming to Iran
From the roadside billboards advertising Rolex and Louis Vuitton, to the glitzy shopping centres that have sprung up across Tehran, it's clear that big brands are becoming big business in Iran.

After decades of austerity following the Islamic Revolution, middle-class Iranians have developed a taste for high-end designer goods, and for Tehran's young rich, shopping has become the new religion.

"Exposure to foreign trends through travelling, the internet and satellite television has created a desire for branded products," says Bahar, a 30-year-old fashion blogger…

One group of super-rich young Tehranis have taken showing off to new levels with their own Instagram site - Rich Kids of Tehran, where without any perceptible sense of irony, they post pictures of their designer clothes and designer lifestyles.

When the site first appeared last year it prompted fury and resentment among poorer Iranians and the conservatives who dominate Iran's political and legal institutions.

But the Rich Kids seem undeterred by the controversy.

Recent postings include pictures of Tehran Fashion Week and a question about where people are going on holiday this year - the responses range from Italy and Istanbul to Japan and Dubai…

In big cities all across Iran, traditional bazaars now face fierce competition from American-style urban shopping centres where big name Western brands are on conspicuous display.

But although these luxury shopping centres look exactly the same as retail outlets anywhere in the world, the designer goods on display have actually been brought in by third-party importers via Turkey and the Gulf States…

The backdoor way in which foreign brands are imported into Iran means they are more expensive than they would be abroad, but so far this doesn't seem to be deterring the shoppers…

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