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Dress for the times!

Add another economic measurement to your tool belts: fashion. According to a survey by the cosmetic giant Kao Co., Japanese women wear their hair long when the economy is strong, and crop it short when times are slow. If this sounds too bizarre to be true, the results might surprise you.

Up until the 1990's, when Japan enjoyed its longest period of economic growth, 60% of women kept their hair long, according to the Nikkei Business Daily. During the bubble burst of the 90's-like clockwork-the fashionable Tokyo hair was cut short. Then, sometime around 2002, when Japan's economy stabilized, the hair grew back.

On the cusp of a potential Japanese recession, Kao-who in 2003 called Japanese hair "the envy of the world"-has released its latest findings. And the news is not good. Japanese women are cutting their hair again.

But there are other ways to use fashion to measure the economy. For years, investors have tracked hem lines to predict markets. The longer the skirt, the worse the economy. The shorter, the better.

To better forecast where the economy is headed today, perhaps the best bet is to take a closer look at Gap (GPS), Dressbarn (DBRN), Revlon (REV), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Procter & Gamble (PG).

Join Hoofy and Boo as they take a closer look at the world of fashionomics.
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