The trade in donated second-hand clothes from the west to Africa is worth $5 billion per year, transforming 8 billion kilos of unwanted garments into a new commodity. Yet vast amounts of these clothes still end up in landfills. Salaula is a Zambian word meaning selecting by rummaging through a pile. The country’s booming Salaula markets have pushed out local textile and fashion businesses, which are unable to compete with the second-hand industry and low-quality clothing that is imported from China. Donated garments, discarded as undesirable by their original owner, dress Zambians and create a…
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Salaula: The International Trade of Donated Second-Hand Clothing to Zambia

Lotte de Haan

The trade in donated second-hand clothes from the west to Africa is worth $5 billion per year, transforming 8 billion kilos of unwanted garments into a new commodity. Yet vast amounts of these clothes still end up in landfills. Salaula is a Zambian word meaning selecting by rummaging through a pile. The country’s booming Salaula markets have pushed out local textile and fashion businesses, which are unable to compete with the second-hand industry and low-quality clothing that is imported from China. Donated garments, discarded as undesirable by their original owner, dress Zambians and create a local trade while simultaneously suppressing the development of an independent industry.

Lotte de Haan investigates the shifting value of clothing waste, tracing its journey from junk to commodity to junk: from the collection, sorting and compressing of textiles in the west to their reinvention in Zambia’s huge Lusaka Salaula market. Collaborating with a variety of vendors in the Lusaka market, from wholesalers to clothing pickers and tailors, she has created a series of sunshades from old clothes. Each one portrays a geographic territory and the impact of its discarded textiles on Zambia. Together, they represent the new global geography of the used clothing market.

Credits

Tailors: David, Kabaso, Mwepia, Dorothy Chikwemba

Salaula Vendors: Abel Chipoya, David, Rabson, Golden, Imano

Models: Nana, Beenzu, Lombe Jenny, Akakandelwa, Esther, Ngosa

Lusaka Dumpsite: Mr Chikwemba, Ministry of Commerce/Trade and Industry Zambia; Mr M. Ngosa, Industry Department, Movement for African Unity; Mutetelenu Kalama, Global Youth Platform

Photography: Bichriphoto

Clothing Collection and Sorting: Sympany, Leger Des Heils — reshare, Wieland Textiel

Welding: Adam Bialek

References

Malcolm Webb, “African countries ban secondhand clothes imports, Al Jazeera, February 23, 2018. Link

“Zambia considering imposing a ban on salaula (second-hand cloths),” Lusaka Voice, April 25, 2014. Link

Bio

Lotte de Haan is a young designer, currently based in Haarlem, with a strong passion to bring people together in order to reinforce their values and hidden talents. She designs stages and contexts to bring out the qualities of the people most affected by the topics of her research and design. She immerses herself in new contexts to open up unknown habits and ideas, putting inclusivity, empowerment, and equity at the heart of her work.

Contacts

lotdehaan.nl Link

@lotte_de_haan Link