25 July 2013

More discussions on second hand clothes in Haiti

I noted an article yesterday that made the case that second hand clothes are flooding Haitian markets and damaging small businesses.

The twist in the story is that the influx of used clothes is in some part linked to the rise of clothing production in Haiti for consumers in the United States and elsewhere. The clothes that some Haitians are producing for people in other countries are hurting local tailors.

The article took a critical view of the sale of secondhand clothes. Another article published earlier this month sees things differently.

Reporter Tate Watkins writes in Medium about his personal journey from being a critic of the trade of used clothes, known as pepe (pè-pè) in Haiti, to a supporter. He argues that Haitians like the clothing, based on his discussions with people in Haiti. Further, the ability to purchase higher quality clothing and brand names at extremely low prices is advantageous to Haitian consumers.

It is a similar to the argument over Walmart. Opponents decry the way that the mega shopping centers can destroy local businesses by undercutting item prices and paying people poor wages. Supporters say that the lower prices are a good thing and are a competitive market working correctly.

The average person benefits from the arrival of a Walmart in his or her community because other businesses have to compete when it comes to selling food, electronics, clothing, etc. That savings for someone living in poverty or the middle class can add up and allow someone to pay for important services like healthcare or a better vacation.

continue reading on Humanosphere...

Also read this smart follow up from Tate Watkins that rightly points out the difference between textiles for domestic sales verses export.