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Clothing Poverty

Clothing Poverty

Andrew Brooks



‘An interesting and important account.’
Daily Telegraph

Have you ever stopped and wondered where your jeans came from? Who made them and where? Ever wondered where they end up after you donate them for recycling?

Following a pair of jeans, Clothing Poverty takes the reader on a vivid around-the-world tour to reveal how clothes are manufactured and retailed, bringing to light how fast fashion and clothing recycling are interconnected. Andrew Brooks shows how recycled clothes are traded across continents, uncovers how retailers and international charities are embroiled in commodity chains which perpetuate poverty, and exposes the hidden trade networks which transect the globe.

Stitching together rich narratives, from Mozambican markets, Nigerian smugglers and Chinese factories to London’s vintage clothing scene, TOMS shoes and Vivienne Westwood’s ethical fashion lines, Brooks uncovers the many hidden sides of fashion.

Andrew Brooks is a lecturer in development geography at King’s College London.


‘An interesting and important account.’
Daily Telegraph

'Brooks packs a great deal of such detail into a fast-paced and readable book.'
Morning Star

'Thought-provoking and insightful. A fascinating, must-read text for those interested in the ethics surrounding sustainability in fashion and design.'
Alison Gwilt, author of Fashion Design for Living and A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion

'A book that sparks with intelligence, mapping a world that connects inequalities, Vivienne Westwood, post-consumption and second-hand garments.'
Kate Fletcher, London College of Fashion

'By bringing global systems of clothing provision into clearer view, the book offers valuable resources for vigorous debate over what an alternative world might look like.'
Gillian Hart, University of California, Berkeley

'A lively exploration of the hidden world of fast fashion and second-hand clothing that invites us to think of where our clothes come from.'
Karen Tranberg Hansen, Northwestern University

'This engaging and well-written book focuses on some of the least explored outcomes of the fast-fashion system we all live in – that is, what we increasingly and quickly cast off.'
Alessandra Mezzadri, SOAS, University of London

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front cover
About the Author ii
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Acknowledgements vii
Introduction 1
1: A Biography of Jeans\r 9
Jeans: A Social History 10
Designing Denim 14
Growing Cotton 18
Ginning, Spinning and Weaving 22
Manufacturing Jeans 25
Advertising and Retail 29
Today’s Jeans Systems of Provision 31
Theorizing Production and Consumption 34
2: Clothes and Capital\r 39
Bra Wars 39
Crises of Capitalism 43
The Origins of Clothes and Uneven Development 46
Clothing in Ancient Society 50
Protected Trade in the Feudal Era 52
Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution 56
Capital and Colonial Expansion 60
Capitalism Adapts in the Twentieth Century 64
The Multi-Fiber Arrangement and the Growth of Fast Fashion 67
3: The Shadow World of Used Clothing\r 72
Clothing in Papua New Guinea 72
Second-Hand Clothing in Historical Contexts 74
Waste and Clothing Consumption 81
Second-Hand Clothing Charities in the UK 83
The Commercial Trade in Second-Hand Clothing 86
Oxfam Wastesaver: Processing Clothes for Export 93
The Second-Hand and New Clothing Trades in Global Context 97
4: Cotton Is the Mother of Poverty\r 100
Africa and Global Markets 100
Cotton in Colonial Mozambique 107
Cotton and Structural Adjustment in Côte d’Ivoire 109
Economic Liberalization and Cotton Subsidies 114
5: Made in China and Africa \r 118
Chinese Economic Expansion 118
African Attempts at Industrial Modernization 126
China’s New Investments in Africa 130
Casualization and Labour Abuses at Mulungushi Textiles 132
Discipline and Profit 135
Labour Discontent and the Closure of Mulungushi Textiles 138
6: Second-Hand Africa\r 142
Super Bowl’s Other Winners 142
Second-Hand Clothes in Africa 144
Used-Clothing Assignments 149
Nigeria: Economic Turmoil 153
Used Clothing Imports and the Decline of African Clothing Industries 158
7: Persistent Poverty\r 161
Growth Without Development in Mozambique 161
Second-Hand Clothing Imports and Wholesale 166
Work in the Second-Hand Clothing Sector 172
The Unusual Case of Humana–ADPP 177
Shopping for Second-Hand Clothes in Mozambique 179
8: Old Clothes and New Looks\r 184
The M65 US Military Field Jacket 184
Vintage Fashion in Cities 188
Japanese Jeans 193
Used Clothing Markets in the Global South 197
Upcycling 203
9: Ethical Clothing Myths and Realities\r 207
Toms Shoes 207
Ethical Consumption in Theory and Practice 213
Valuing Fairtrade Clothes 217
Vivienne Westwood and Political Consumption 219
Marketing ‘Made with Love in Nairobi’ 222
Ethical Recycling and New Cycles of Consumption 224
Sustainable Fashion 227
Perspectives on Ethical Consumption 230
10: Fast-Fashion Systems\r 233
London Fashion Week 233
Making Markets for Second-Hand Clothes 236
Post-Consumption 241
Can Production Be Fixed? 246
Conclusion 250
Notes 253
Further Reading 277
Index 279
Back Cover Back cover