ResearchPDF Available

Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Following the journey of a pair of jeans Clothing Poverty takes the reader on a vivid around-the-world tour from cotton fields to retail stores. Andrew Brooks shows how new and second-hand clothes are traded across continents and traces the human and environmental impacts of production and consumption. Using research from around the globe, colourful stories and hard data demonstrate how the clothing, textile and recycling sectors have played a major part in making different regions of the world rich and poor. Clothing Poverty uncovers how fast fashion retailers and charity shops are embroiled in commodity chains which perpetuate poverty. Stitching together rich narratives from Papua New Guinean tribal people, Mozambican cotton growers, Zambian factory workers, American jeans markets, international charities, Nigerian smugglers, London’s vintage clothing scene and Vivienne Westwood’s new ethical designer lines, Brooks uncovers the many secret sides of fashion.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available

Supplementary resource (1)

... For some time, the African continent has served as the final destination for an estimated 70% of clothing donated globally with East Africa alone importing over $150 million worth of used apparel, predominantly from the US, and Europe (Banik, 2020). Yet, as pointed out by Brooks (2019), when the affluent donate their unwanted apparel to charities, assuming it will be reused, the journey does not end there and the story remains half told. In a recent documentary, Besser (2021) reports on the tragic consequences surrounding textile waste in Ghana, highlighting the fact that the country has a population of 30 million, with 15 million donated garments from the United States, Europe and Australia reaching its shores every week, thus resulting in mountains of unusable, lower-quality textile waste ending up in landfills. ...
Article
Globally, textile waste is cause for much concern with attention devoted toward waste reduction strategies throughout the value chain, but also more specifically at the end-of-life, when consumers are urged to donate, recycle or resell unwanted apparel. Studies in developed countries have provided much insight surrounding consumers’ apparel disposal, but the topic remains understudied in emerging economies. Using a combination of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and the Norm Activation Theory (NAT), this study explores female consumers’ motivation and intention to sustainably dispose of post-consumer textile waste in the South African emerging market context. Adopting a non-probable purposive sampling procedure, 315 females between 18 and 65 years were recruited, as they often fulfill decisive roles in the disposal of unwanted apparel. Scale items derived from prior research were adapted and included in a structured, self-administered web-based questionnaire to collect data. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis revealed eight factors, namely awareness of environmental consequences, social norms, personal norms, perceived behavioral control, attitudes as well as their intent to donate, resell and reuse/ recycle apparel. Focusing on donation as respondents’ preferred method of disposal, a structural equation model was devised that reveals the underlying motivational factors that contribute to their willingness to donate. The findings offer a meaningful contribution toward current debates surrounding the utility of TPB and NAT to predict intent. The study also delivers a much-needed African perspective on the underpinnings of consumers’ apparel donation, which may serve as a basis for waste reduction strategies and direct future investigation.
... Brooks. 2015. "Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes." . 2015. "Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes." ...
Article
Full-text available
In the past five to eight years, there has been a dramatic increase in those who participate in a kind of second-hand shopping experience called thrifting. The popularity of thrift shopping comes from its low prices, unique styles, and one-of-a-kind characteristics, as well as the factor of sustainability that thrifting in its nature constitutes. In this essay I will examine the ways in which thrift shopping creates a new kind of consumer—the ‘curating consumer’—who thrifts in order to build a stronger sense of visual and moral identity within a society that encourages consumers to conform. Through a historical analysis of second-hand clothing markets, and by examining fast fashion and attitudes towards this regime, I will demonstrate how the rise in thrift culture is a class-specific reaction to the mass-production of clothing on a global scale.
... For example, although the UK Charity Retail Association note that 90 percent of donated garments 'end up on the rack in store', according to scholar Andrew Brooks, only between 10 and 30 percent of what is given to UK charities sells over the counter (Rodgers, 2015). Non-recyclable apparel is often sold to Global South countries where it becomes part of the second-hand clothing trade and damages local economies (Brooks, 2019). Unwanted clothing is also routinely incinerated or left to occupy expensive and limited landfill space where materials remain undegraded and generate toxic greenhouse gas methane (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). ...
... Therefore the melancholic complaint that "Chinese" imitations threaten the textile industry in Africa is almost incredible, as Africa simply does not have the economic muscle to develop a stable textile industry. Even the surviving textile industries for the most part are subsidiaries of, or partner with, foreign companies to inject foreign capital and manpower (Bonita 2019;Brooks 2015, Spencer 2020Nyerere 2011). ...
Article
When reading about African textiles online, one is likely to come across several articles that show concern about the authenticity of the African Wax print. This commentary is an attempt at understanding the historical implications of the central questions around the authenticity of textiles in Africa. I argue that the authenticity question opens up wider possibilities for understanding the gendered dynamics of textile production and consumption in Africa.
... It has led to overconsumption and accumulation of post-use textiles in municipal solid waste (Birtwistle and Moore, 2007;Sandvik and Stubbs, 2019), acknowledged by the waste management (WM) companies (Dahlbo et al., 2017). This increase is also notable within the overwhelmed second-hand clothing market and the growing export of used clothing to developing countries (Nørup et al., 2019a, b;Brooks, 2015). ...
Purpose The European Union (EU) member states are obligated to implement the separate collection of textile waste by the year 2025. Nowadays, non-profit organizations (NPOs) are the largest collectors of post-use textiles. In support of upcoming changes, this study develops an understanding of barriers and drivers for establishing partnerships between NPOs and companies in reverse textile supply chains. Design/methodology/approach This study adopts the embedded single-case design. The main data source is semi-structured interviews with NPOs, companies and research institutes in Finland, identified through intensity case sampling. The drivers and barriers are categorized into seven categories: environmental, economic, social, institutional, technological and informational, supply chain and organizational categories. Findings This study elaborates on the barriers and drivers in a new context of textile valorization and prioritizes them. The study identifies the alignment of interests and goals, increased transparency and clarity of terminology and other main factors in establishing the partnership. Research limitations/implications Expanding the geographical boundaries of current research will capture the experiences of NPOs and companies in other contextual settings. Practical implications This study contributes to the existing knowledge with a broad picture of different barriers and drivers. The findings intend to support the integration of NPOs in reverse textile supply chains. Social implications The partnership can potentially minimize the export of post-use textiles to developing countries, thus reducing the negative environmental footprint and social impact of the textile industry. Originality/value The study looks at an emerging form of partnership between NPOs and companies in reverse supply chains for enabling valorization of post-use textiles.
Article
Full-text available
Clothes, especially of high symbolic and/or material value, were always treasured and passed on to other users as gifts, heirlooms and legacies or given to charity, usually through religious institutions. Although secondhand clothing has a long history, it grew in volume and visibility with industrial revolution and the establishment of the consumer society, the driving force of capitalism. Desire to accumulate the new was always accompanied with the need to dispose of the old. Partly still maintaining charitable character, the global used-clothing exchange, starting with the 19th century rag trade international networks, has grown into a multi-billion- dollar commerce between the global North and the global South. While used clothes are still considered by some as trash, they can be a blessing to the world of the poor, a powerful (counter)-cultural declaration to some groups (e.g., hippies, grunge), or, if marketed as vintage, a deliberate fashion statement. Whatever the case, they present a “hot” controversial topic. Nowadays, the way secondhand is viewed and used around the world, proves again that globalization is a creative process producing always new forms of hybridization. This paper presents a short history and diverse views of the phenomenon. The research was based on multi- sited participant observation and interviews over an extended period of time.
Article
African countries are today the major importers of the lowest grade of second‐hand clothing (SHC). With the opening of global markets and the intense circulation of fast fashion in the Global North from the 1990s, the trade of SHC has exploded in the twenty‐first century. The fast fashion business model, which fuels the SHC trade, has led to reduced quality of clothes, limited clothing lifetime, and accelerated discard of clothing, which end up as donations or become waste. The complexity of the international geographies of the SHC trade creates opacity and secrecy, maintaining inequalities and imbalances between Global North (GN) and South (GS), which continue a relationship of colonial dependence. This paper presents a critical look at SHC exchange in Kantamanto, the biggest SHC market in West Africa, situated within the central business district of Accra, Ghana. The paper scrutinizes the export of unwanted donated clothing, popularly known as “Obroni w'awu” (white man is dead), to Kantamanto. We use direct observation along with an interpretive research design through the analysis of photos taken from Kantamanto, and scholarly and gray literature. The paper documents local practices of reuse, exposing a duality: on the one hand, clothing's symbolic value that is lost in the GN is reconstituted in the GS through exchange and labor‐creating local economies. On the other, the global trade of SHC has become synonymous with dumping, continuing a colonialist relationship between the GN and GS whereby the GN exports unwanted clothing to predominantly African countries’ landfills.
Article
Full-text available
RESUMO Os sistemas de trocas, vendas e transmissões de roupas de segunda mão formam práticas que podem ser reconhecidas na longa duração histórica. No início do século XX, esses sistemas foram confrontados com as formas de consumo que acionavam os produtos novos como testemunhos da modernidade. Este artigo parte do clássico episódio dos experimentos chefiados por Emílio Ribas, no ano de 1903, para se chegar ao estudo dos medos e dos usos que as pessoas fizeram das indumentárias de segunda mão. O argumento aqui apresentado é que as populações, perante os diferentes saberes em disputa, num período demarcado pelo encontro entre várias epidemias e de expansão do capitalismo industrial, produziram novas apreensões sobre as roupas utilizadas por outrem, revigorando a conexão entre saúde e novidade. Essa apreensão impulsionou a cultura de consumo baseada no descarte, na cidade de São Paulo, no período entre 1900 e 1914.
Article
Full-text available
We explore the knowledge production experiences of marketing academics who currently work in countries that have previously colonized their home countries. Building on Bourdieu's concepts of illusio and the field, we demonstrate that participants are drawn to the appeal of the academic game, which perpetuates itself as a toxic field of relations. Within this toxic field, academics from former colonies are pushed to certain roles that sustain the colonial knowledge hierarchies. We show that colonisation has not ended but transformed into contemporary forms which sustain the hierarchies of knowledge in marketing. Notably, the study illustrates first, that academia is a toxic field of neocolonial relations; second, that dominant exploitative academic practices serve to sustain this toxic field; and third, that there is a toxic illusio which prevents academics from developing a healthy sense of colonial relations in their knowledge production.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Electromagnetic radiation is emitted by most of the electric and electronic devices and shielding from radiation is important. In this study, the Cu/Ni coated ultrathin nonwoven fabric sample was taken to form two-layer of strips and test for electromagnetic shielding effectiveness. The two layered strips were prepared with 3-, 6-, & 9-mm strip thicknesses and gaps between the strips and laid at 0°, 45°, & 90° angles. A single layer nonwoven has shielding effectiveness of 53 dB compared with two-layer strips maximum of 42 dB at 1.5 GHz frequency. The strips cover area and aperture area was calculated and found significant effect on shielding effectiveness results.
Chapter
Full-text available
The “Calça da Gang”, or “Brazilian Jeans", are a specific style of trousers that has been widely recognized in cosmopolitan contexts. Expanding upon the general symbolism of Brazilian culture, “Brazilian Jeans” are thought of, not just as sexy, but also as having an ability in themselves to make the wearer more sexy. The foundations for this idea lie in the original context from which these particular jeans arose. They were and they remain the main female attire at Rio de Janeiro’s Funk parties. In confronting the jeans in this context and looking at media discourse that surrounds them, we can see what it is about them that gave rise to this wider belief in their power and potential. Media discussion of jeans at Funk Balls are quite clear that the object itself could in and of itself produce a body. More particularly they explain the success of the style: in that these trousers could “give a bum”. This feature became its most conspicuous attribute when it subsequently developed as a global style through its consumption by upper class people to be appropriated by hegemonic Brazilian denim manufacturers and finally exported as Brazilian Jeans. Having in mind this mythology I arrived at the Funk Ball.