Our friends at the Material World Blog have a new post about a special edition of Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture focused entirely on second hand clothing. In her book Recycling Reconsidered, Samantha MacBride discusses the “hidden” nature of discarded textiles, which “have quietly escalated as a fraction of municipal solid waste with the rapid increase in output of a globalized apparel industry” (45). Based on her in-depth analysis of MSW data, she states that “the disposal impacts of natural and synthetic fiber textiles are comparable to those for paper and plastics, respectively” (28), and “comparable tonnages of glass (7.2 million tons) and textiles (8.5 million tons) are disposed of each year as municipal solid waste” (25). The special edition of Textile is a step towards making the rising disposal of textiles more visible in academia, as least in so far as clothing is removed from the waste stream within formal and informal economies. There is still much work to be done on this overlooked niche of discards.

From Lucy Norris at Material World Blog:

‘Trade and Transformations of Secondhand Clothing’ has just been published as the 10th anniversary issue of Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture.

This edition includes papers presented at the ‘Recycling Textile Technologies’ conference held at UCL in July 2010 (see earlier postings here), and is one of the publications arising from the UCL contribution to the Waste of the World project, dealing with discarded clothing and textile waste.

Ever wondered what happens to your clothes beyond the charity bag?

Edited by anthropologists Lucy Norris and Julie Botticello, this special issue of Textile reveals the enormous scale, value and impact of the international secondhand clothes trade, a global economy that most know very little about.

The topic is approached from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including historical insights into the expansion of the trade, ethical considerations of charity clothing practices, and economic analysis of how value is added to clothes and profitable relationships maintained. The contributors analyse specific localized practices and, crucially, place these within the broader context of global networks and markets.

Contributors include Beverly Lemire, Julie Botticelli, Olumide Abimbola, B. Lynne Milgram, Andrew Brooks, Nick Morley and Katie Ryder and my introduction ‘Trade and Transformations of Secondhand Clothing: Introduction’ by Lucy Norris, has been made freely available online (see ‘table of contents’ on the above link). The edition also includes a review by Emma Tarlo of the end-of-project exhibition Everything Must Go, held at the Southbank, London in January 2012 and curated by myself and Clare Patey.

We hope you enjoy the issue, and do please get in touch if you have any comments.