As promised, the third installment of our yearlong look at international gender and labor issues (click here for the first two, “Fast Fashion” and “Let’s Go Shopping“) draws out labor and environmental concerns in the secondhand clothing industry. Thrifting may be the cheapest option for you, but it’s big business for some – in both the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors. Moreover, the strip reveals that it’s not just offshore garment workers suffering labor abuses: Workers here in the United States fight similar battles with management. It may feel more ethical, but the second-hand-garment trade doesn’t erase offshore labor problems; it compounds them with domestic worker abuses and does nothing to ease waste accumulation. And it’s a growth industry.
We know this will prompt more letters to Ladydrawers HQ along the lines of, “But what is the solution?” And, dear readers, let us acknowledge right now that we don’t have one. We’re spending a year outlining the full range of labor issues in the international garment trade and related industries. Perhaps solutions will present themselves once we can understand the scope of the problem, as they have in our previous investigations, which you can read here.