Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This explains it all...

This article helps explain the fashion I've seen in the developing world. (Warning: link will expire after one week.) Being able to choose what clothes you wear is a luxury in most developing countries. Ever wonder what happened to that box of clothes you left at the donation drop-off? Chances are it wasn't sent to a Goodwill but sold for CA$H. These donated clothes are usually rounded up and vaccuum-packed into big bales and sold overseas. In Honduras this used clothing was called ropa americana, or American clothes.

In Honduras, the rumor was that American only wore their once and then threw them away because they were so rich they could buy more clothes. Considering the quality of used clothing (totally wearable and decent) and the fact that due to financial constraints most Honduras wore their clothes until they fell off their bodies, I can see how they came to this conclusion.

In Angola, it is much the same, except that the used clothes here are a bit more expensive. (Either that or they charge me the white-person price.) Sports-related clothing are the most in-demand, thanks to hip-hop and Western musician styles. I was even pleased to see an old school Houston Astros t-shirt on a teen the other day. I'm not sports-savvy enough to know which team won what Super Bowl, but I'll pay more attention from now on.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

There is an essay by George Packer called "How Susie Bayer's T-Shirt Ended up on Yusuf Mama's Back". The author traces a shirt from the time it was donated to a NYC thrift store to the point where it was sold in a town in Uganda. It's an interesting article, and kind of sums up the whole situation!