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Clothes and Fashion: A Modern Necessity

There was a time when clothing was seen as a necessity. However, with the changing times another word- fashion has been added to this need. It has expanded the area of what used to be known as fashion but has also become a necessity today.  

But, are we not aware of the damage this fashion race is causing to the environment? 

Fashion houses and clothes-making companies always promote this environment caused due to 'creativity' and to provide big market choices for customers.

There is another link related to the second-hand clothes market. At the present, the second-hand clothes market is a booming business. Which only looks to increase in size in the future. The market for these second-hand clothes is mainly between two countries or sometimes even in the home country. We will try to know about the cause and effect of this second-hand clothes market between two countries.


How does the second-hand market function? 

The export and import of second-hand clothes are mostly between the developed countries and developing countries. Since the developing or poor countries can't make more investment in their own textile business. 

Due to enough money for buying new clothes, they appear cheaper. There is also a fashion craze due to unlimited options fashion options. People of developed countries are buying more clothes while wearing only some, leading to an increase in unwanted clothes. 

In developing countries, there are mainly four ways to discard unwanted clothes. 

  • Donate unwanted clothes to an organization 

  • Contact the dealer whose team picks these unwanted clothes from your house.

  • Leave these unwanted clothes in the shopping complex changing room.

  • Throw bad conditions clothes in clothes bin.

These unwanted clothes are collected from clothing bins and purchased by dealers or organizations and sold in developing countries. In most cases, these dealers or organizations have direct contact with dealers of developing countries. 

When second-hand clothes reach developing countries for sale, they are purchased by local clothes dealers. And after the sorting and cleaning of clothes, these second-hand clothes are purchased by local retailers. In the end, local retailers sell these second-hand clothes to the public. 

World Market of Old Clothes

The global used-clothes market is worth $40 billion per year, according to Boston Consulting Group. And is growing at more than 15% per year.

The largest quantity of used clothing is exported from developed countries to developing countries. Used Clothing represents 0.025% of total world trade.

United States ($720M), United Kingdom ($496M), Germany ($379M), China ($372M), and South Korea ($312M) were the biggest export countries of used clothes in the world in 2019 according to the report.

Another side Ukraine ($203M), Pakistan ($189M), Ghana ($168M), Kenya ($165M), and United Arab Emirates ($151M) were the top importers of used clothes in the world in 2019 according to the report.

And in 2018 the average tariff for Used Clothing was 19.7%, making it the 108th lowest tariff using the HS4 product classification.

 Ecuador (609%), Botswana (122%), Iran (100%), New Zealand (97.3%), and Vietnam (96.2%), these countries put the highest import tariffs for used clothes. 

Ethiopia (0%), Mauritius (0%), Rwanda (0%), Hong Kong (0%), and Sri Lanka (0%), these countries do not put any type of tariffs on used clothes. 

Ranking Used Clothing is 654th in the Product Complexity Index (PCI).

Pulse Reports 2017 estimates that only 20% of post-consumer clothing is collected for reuse or recycling. Of these, only 40% end up in a second-hand clothing market - either sold at a charity shop in the same country where the donation was made or more generally sold at an international used clothing market.

The scale of international wholesale trade in used clothing is estimated to be between 2 million and 4 million tons of used goods per year and The annual value of this business was reported to be between $1.5 billion and $3.4 billion in 2016.

How do developed countries make a profit from this?

It is said by most people that the business of exporting old clothing from developed to developing countries shows a win-win situation. But the question here is that whether it really is a win-win situation? 

Old clothes are sold or donated in developing countries without checking them. Due to this those clothes which are in very bad condition or not in a condition to wear are also lost. 

The result of all this is that large quantities of waste cloths get accumulated in developing countries, making them difficult to dispose of and thus harming the environment.

In simple words, these developing countries become a garbage dump for developed countries.

Since the people of developed countries can easily discard their old clothes, their new clothes are cheap in their currency, so they buy more and more new clothes (Clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000).

While people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long) 

So due to all this, a smooth flow would have been created in the clothes or fashion industry there.

Being the fashion hub of developed countries, their clothing business remains in high demand. This world's wild demand for clothes in the fashion industry generates a lot of revenue for the developed countries.

as well as opens up avenues for employment ( like fashion industry workers or fabric industry workers) and products taxes for the people there.

The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the worlds' water supply. In total, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. If the fashion sector continues on its current trajectory, that share of the carbon budget could jump to 26% by 2050, according to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide.

Due to the low cost and high demand for synthetic fabrics in the market (people like synthetic fabric because it's cheap), large quantities of synthetic fabrics are produced in developed countries. Industry figures show that the global synthetic fibre production reached about 66.6 million tons in 2018, representing approximately 63% of all fibres produced around the world. The annual synthetic fibre production is forecast to reach 134.5 million tons by 2025, in line with a 3.7% annual growth rate for all fibre production worldwide.

Top 10 Synthetic Fibre Manufacturers in the World 2020 are China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), DuPont – US, Indorama Corporation – Indonesia, Toray Industries – Japan, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation – Japan, Reliance Industries Limited – India, Lenzing AG – Austria, Teijin – Japan, Asahi Kasei Fibres Corporation – Japan, Toyobo Co – Japan.

Even though synthetic fabrics harm the environment, countries don't have to need for worry about this because in the last these synthetic or other types of fabrics are sold or donated in the poor or developing countries.

From this whole situation, we can understand that where the market of old cloths benefits the developed countries benefits from all sides, while on the other hand it also creates problems for the developing countries.

How are developing countries affected by this?

These old clothes would have been in high demand in developing or poor countries. Due to which these countrymen are never able to develop their textile industry market.

Because lack of textile industry of their own, their dependence on developed countries increases, which can be used by the developed countries for their benefit.

Where people get employment by selling old clothes, more people can get employment if their country starts its textile and fashion industry.

Why do people buy old clothes?

The reason why old clothes are most popular among people is their cheap, attractive, durable. These things make people more inclined towards old clothes.

These clothes are not only old but they have a large variety in the market which provides more choice to the consumer.

Social media influence has increased the sales of these old clothes nowadays. Teenagers and people in their early-20s feel inclined or sometimes pressured to post something every day on social media. They feel an urge to look attractive in that post, for which they do not want to recycle their clothes in their most posts or videos, so they need new clothes 

But because most of them don't have enough money for buying new clothes, they have only one option left to fulfil their need which is buying old clothes. Old clothes are less expensive and they can also be discarded easily when they don't need these clothes. In social media, they can show that they wearing new clothes but in reality, these are old clothes but those youngsters who have enough money then prefer buying new clothes. Social media is also reasonable for these or fashion industries' growth. 

People who belong to the labour or poor class also cannot afford new clothes due to them being expensive, so they also prefer second-hand clothes.

Those people who do wage work ( like construction labour or wall painter etc.), do not get a proper uniform for their work, they also buy second-hand clothes on trackside( for using them on their uniform places).

Is it wrong to wear second-hand clothes?

The answer is no, there is nothing wrong.  

There is no wrong or shame to wear or purchase second-hand clothes if these clothes are properly clean and do not contain any type of infection or virus but we need to avoid purchasing second-hand clothes like undergarments or baby clothes.


Our problems are not due to wearing or not wearing second-hand clothes but because of the native effect of second-hand clothes on the environment and development.

While the business of second-hand clothes and fashion industry helps to develop the economy of the developed countries on the one hand. It also attacks the economy and self-reliance of the developing countries, Dominates them by developing countries, which in some way or the other become indirect colonies of developing countries. Poor countries also need to enter this textile market and contribute to their economy by eliminating the unemployment of their people. But we also know that the work here is not so easy because according to the internet, whenever poor countries try to ban second hands clothes exporting they have to face threats from the side of powerful countries. 

The fashion industry has increased its business in the name of creativity by giving unlimited fashion options to people, but it has also caused a lot of damage to the environment. Fashion is not wrong and neither are second-hand clothes we need both for sustainable development and if these things go out of the limit then it will create problems for the environment.

The responsibility is not only of the government but also of the people. They must contribute to sustainable development by buying clothes(new or old clothes)as much as they need while also trying to purchase the eco-friendly and ethical fabric.


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