Should a country’s effort to BE sustainable be thwarted by a sustainable fashion MOVEMENT?
Second hand clothes are not a black and white issue, and they are not all good.
Knowing your purchase or donation will do good for other communities or causes does not negate the reality of how lucrative the second hand clothes industry is for the so-called developed world, and the hand-tie situation it presents to the countries it exports to.
As a British-Born Ghanaian, it is close to my heart to share that the continent of Africa is being used as a dumping ground. Awoken to this reality, several East African countries (including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan) are refusing to accept limitless second hand clothes and in turn are being threatened with exclusion from beneficial trade deals. This impacts their ability to be prosperous and self sufficient.
For the African countries who want to support their own homegrown design talent, and create their own thriving fashion capitals full of native luxury conglomerates or high street giants? To not rely on these cheap imports to ‘define’ their fashion industry on the global stage, it is opportunity denied.
Like I said, one of the ways that sustainable fashion is not intersectional is by who is chooses as the messenger. Who it shackles to a limited prosperity. One where it dictates the terms of growth and oversees the image of who is helping whom.
These countries are being punished because of their desire to build domestic textile industries, to build their own.
Why are certain countries forced to sacrifice development in order to remain connected to the so called advanced world? FYI – 70 percent of donated garments end up in Africa.
The western world has realised it has too many clothes and not enough people interested in wearing them (second hand clothes are called the “clothing of calamity” in Mozambique – such is the madness of the piles we throw away without a second thought). That doesn’t mean that all manner of garments should be exported to Africa. Or that Africans – across the 54 countries – should feel grateful for the burden.