Part IV My T-shirt Finally Encounters a Free Market

Second-hand market in Africa

Nigeria Fashion: Designer Clothes from the Second-Hand market

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96 thoughts on “Part IV My T-shirt Finally Encounters a Free Market”

  1. While reading part IV of “The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy”, I really enjoyed it. I think part IV for me was a real eye opener. On page 222, a statement put a lot into perspective for me. It said, “Approximately half of the clothing arriving at Trans-Americas has another life to live as clothing. Where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings”. This quote caught my attention because my sister is actually getting married next month and both my sister, my mom, and myself were on the hunt for the perfect dresses for ourselves for months, and I’m still not crazy about mine. It’s so crazy that we as Americans have anything and everything at our fingertips and yet sometimes we still can’t find something we like because we are so spoiled and picky, while other countries would take anything that was given to them even if its not the right size. I knew people in most countries would take used hand me downs on an everyday basis gladly, but it’s sad know even on their own very special wedding day they have to wear used clothing that Americans gave away because they considered it to be “garbage”. Although it is sad that these people don’t have enough money to purchase their own clothing, it’s nice to know there are still people in this world that are appreciative and happy with the littlest things in life, unlike us Americans always wanting more and never satisfied with clothing selections, just like myself when I was looking for a dress for my sisters wedding.

  2. I found chapter 13 to be interesting because it talks about people, especially mothers, disposing of their old clothes in order to make room in there closet for new stuff. A lot of what they are getting rid of is T-shirts and they aren’t even sure how they ended up with so many t-shirts in the first place. People with money get rid of perfectly good clothing because they can afford to get new apparel. As stated in the chapter, “Rich Americans—or even middle-class Americans—excel at throwing things away, and the richer we become, the bigger the mounds of cast-off clothing swell”. Although there are thousands and thousands of poor people, it was interesting to learn that there are nowhere near enough poor people in America to absorb the clothing that is disposed, even if it was given away.
    Chapter 13 also taught me about METL, which stands for Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited. It is one of the largest private companies in Tanzania, a conglomerate involved in manufacturing agriculture and trade. I learned that they manufacture soap, sweeteners, cooking oil, textiles, clothing and bicycles. They sell sesame seeds to Japan, pigeon peas to India, cocoa to the U.S. and beeswax to Europe.
    In chapter 15, I learned that more than 30 countries effectively ban the import of used clothing, either through outright prohibitions or impenetrable bureaucratic walls. I do not think there should be a ban on the import of used clothing anywhere because poor people would put the clothing to good use. Although it may affect the markets, it will help people who are in need. It is important that we help one another and stop putting rules on everything.
    I enjoyed reading this book because it isn’t like anything I have ever read before. I enjoyed the graphs and charts because it helped me to understand the text and I like how the book was organized. The titles of each chapter were helpful and catchy and the sections within each chapter helped to break it down and make it an easier read.

    1. you mentioned that”I do not think there should be a ban on the import of used clothing anywhere because poor people would put the clothing to good use. Although it may affect the markets, it will help people who are in need. ” Then, why do you support Auggie’s view that the US should restrict apparel import so as to protect the domestic industry?

  3. I truly enjoyed reading part IV of Travels of a T-Shirt, because it opened my eyes. In my TMD 224 class we watched a video about a similar issue (of what happens when a t-shirt is donated) but the video was about all of the negatives of the recycled clothing industry. It made me not want to even donate my clothes, because I thought that it was doing a disservice to the development in Africa. After reading Part IV, my thoughts have totally changed. Not only does the U.S. textile recycling industry employ many people and is mostly family run, but it also creates entrepreneur jobs for people like Geofrey. Not all of the clothing is sent to Africa, unlike what most people think. The warm clothing is sent to Eastern European and the vintage Levis are sent to Japan. Because of the increase in throwaways from the U.S., consumers of mitumba in Tanzania have become more selective in their fashions, and have made the jobs of the U.S. textile recycling industry and entrepreneurs like Geofrey more competitive.

    The TMD 224 video made it seem like mitumba was destroying employment in the African textile factories and preventing these countries from climbing the development ladder. Yet even which restrictions of used clothing imports, the Tanzanian textile industry still fell. On top of that, the author states that climbing up the developmental ladder is based on export production, not domestic production. Mitumba is not a threat to the African export market in which development depends on. For African countries to suppress imports that lead to jobs for people like Geofrey is counterproductive. Banning imports leads to underground trade that enriches the middleman, not the business people like Geofrey.

    It is interesting that because of China’s ban on imported used clothing, the U.S. recycled textile industry is safe from losing jobs to China. If China were to allow used clothing imports, sorting would shift from the U.S. to China, because China’s low labor costs would give it an advantage in the grading, sorting, and selling of the used clothing. This would also affect the African market, because most of the used clothing would then be consumed by the large Chinese population. Overall, this book made me more aware of how trade policies can affect every aspect of the textile and apparel industry.

  4. I found part IV to be really interesting. I had no idea that we exported so much of the used clothes to other countries! In 224, we watched a video that showed people in Africa who would buy bundles of used clothes to sell back in their home villages. They could not look at the bundles before purchasing, and really had to hope that they got a good enough bundle that they could sell all of the merchandise. The bundles had come from the U.S., and I never really realized how extensive the export of used clothes was. The fact that used clothing has become a business in it of itself is very interesting to me. However, while it is interesting to read that it has grown into such an expansive business, it does not at all shock me. Americans typically shop for the 4 seasons, which requires the removal of old clothing from their possession. Donation bins are so widely spread out nowadays, they make donating used clothes easier than ever. While some of the used clothes stay to be sold here in the U.S., it would make sense that a majority get exported to other countries where the market for used clothes would be bigger. I think it’s interesting to read what used clothing is most popular. For example, chapter 14 talks about how blue jeans are “high end” items, and the more fashionable they are, the more money they’ll make. Sports and college shirts are also popular, and worth more money, which would be the same for new sports and college shirts in the U.S. The same principle applies to used clothing as it does to new: branded or licensed clothing is more valuable, and therefore will sell for more. The recycling of clothes seems to greatly benefit those countries to which it is exported to.

    I would have to say that this book definitely enlightened me to how manufacturing and retailing are part of a global economy. I did not realize before how global apparel manufacturing was, nor how much of an influence American’s retail market has on the rest of the world. However, it would seem that America’s influence does greatly benefit those from the manufacturing of apparel, to the retailing, to the used clothing businesses.

  5. In section four, the first two pages caught my eye. When it is talking about the United States in the past decades being the world’s largest exporter of used clothes. When the book starts to talk about how mothers are getting rid of there last seasons clothing to get the new seasons is very true. I can’t sit here and say I am not guilty of this cause I am. Every year I clean my clothing out that I don’t want anymore and give it away to the Salvation Army. After I drop it off at the bin I never really think about where it ends up until now by reading this chapter. Also something else I had no idea about was the
    Salvation Army and good will can sell the clothing in like second hand stores. I though that they gave it to people in need free of cost and I also didn’t know when they are done with it the rest gets sent to trans-America. I didn’t realize how much time it took to go through clothing and the different places it could end up. The clothing I gave away all these years I wonder where they ended up. I had know idea how many names we could call a tee shirt. Riavoli goes in with many names each tee shirt item is called. The process of just throwing out my clothing just got so much more interesting I never knew there was this whole process.

    Tanzanian was the third largest export for Americans used clothing. I had no idea about this place at all. This chapter is mind blowing I haven’t heard about a lot of information in this section. When it says that men’s throw away less clothing and the condition is not so good because they wear it longer , unlike women who barley wear it and is in good condition I would have to agree with this statement. Coming from my point of view I know many women who wear there clothing a couple of times and get rid of them. I ask myself why American women do this. I think because fashion is constantly changing and women want to be always kept up to date.

    This sentence stuck out to me “an afternoon spent browsing the mitumba markets to piece together the perfect outfit is not about protection from the elements, or about trying to look American. It is rather about the fun and reward of being a smartly dressed and astute shopper. This is really interesting to me in America we get dressed to look good and perfect this country is saying they get dressed to dress smartly! This is how we in America should dress! Girls wear short skirts in the middle of winter just to look good but as what I am taking for this these women dress appropriate towards what the weather is. Not to look perfect.

    After finishing this book it was very interesting to read. I learned a lot stuff that I never knew. From learning about cotton mills, to learning about different things made in china to the political aspects of the textile and apparel industry, to learning about where second hand clothing goes. This book was very easy to understand and very interesting to me! I learned a lot from this book that I didn’t know!

  6. While reading Part IV of “Travels of a T-Shirt”, the part that stuck out to me the most as being the most interesting was the tales of Tanzania and their clothing market. Within this part of the book, we were let into the work of a Tanzania clothing dealer. Many of these dealers will buy bales of clothing where most of their profit will come from only 10% of the bale, from t-shirt that were referred to in the book as “jewels” or distinguished name brand clothing. This really astonished me, because no business owner in the US would ever or could ever continue their business on a 10% profit. Another aspect that caught my eye was the discussion on the camaraderie parties where clothing dealers will meet and rummage through large bales to find as many “jewels” as they can, which as mentioned before are the pieces of clothing that these dealers make their biggest profit off on. It was such an eye opener to think that a great deal of clothing that we pass on from the United States could be fought over for possession by clothing dealers on a completely different continent. A quote from the book that really caught my eye was when the author mentioned “The hunt for treasure does not stop with the clothing, but extends to the pockets, as Americans throw away not just perfectly good clothing put perfectly good money as well- U.S. dollars, no less.” This caught my eye because in a time where our economy is suffering and incomes may be tight, we still willingly get rid of a large portion of our clothing (and money) just because we feel it is out of style or not acceptable to wear anymore. And because Women in the US more frequently get rid of clothing than men do, men’s clothing that arrives in Africa in decent condition can cost four to five times as much as women’s clothing, simply because of low supply.

  7. In part four chapters thirteen to fifteen I found it very interesting to read about a brighter future for the textile industry. First of all I had no idea the conflict between looking at the global trade in cast-off T-shirts, or the recycled clothing business, as a positive or negative aspect in the industry. It can either be looked at as a network that exploits charities and their good will donations or a network that channels charitable impulses into clothing for the poor. It is stated by the author that “it is only in this final stage of life that the T-shirt will meet a real market.” There are no walls in this industry that keep out higher competition which makes only the ones who survive successful. I found it intriguing to learn a deeper knowledge on this industry and realizing every item entered into this path of life is unique. This industry trickles down from generations and consists of thousands of family businesses. When I watched a movie on this industry in my culture, dress, and appearance class I was shocked to know the clothes I was giving to donation could possibly be heading to a textile industry in Africa verses the poor community in America (Mitumba). I was not happy to watch that in the video however, reading about the industry more in detail through part four gave me a different perspective on the matter. Seeing how competitive the industry is replacing those who fail instantly and brining success to those who work incredibly hard in what they do was not how I saw it before. Seeing how the merchandise is divided between regions was also interesting to read. The so-called vintage clothing has the highest value and is given out for special treatment and given to special customers. Nike and Levi’s are watched for the younger generation Japanese cultures on the higher end of the dollar. Even the T-shirts are chosen through certain graphics from Mickey Mouse to classic band names. This section made me think twice about the way Americans look at a simple T-shirt at times as garbage while the rest of the world sees valuable textiles for everyday life and even special occasions. I did not know so much of the industry relied on talent in spotting valuables, relationships and connections to suppliers, and personal knowledge about their customers. These qualities of the industry can be placed parallel to the “high end” clothing we see in America and other developed countries business plans in selling apparel. Seeing such similar qualities in a recyclable textile industry to the one in our economy I feel we have no right to have negative views towards their way of life. It may not be the most honest it has provided countries to step out of their local villages and step up the economic ladder without having factory alternatives. I do feel Americans need to find a better path of clothing to ones in need after natural disasters, or Salvation Army routine. In the end the textile and apparel industry will always need change and improvements, but at least for the future it is brighter than the past.

  8. Part IV of “The Travels of a Tshirt in the Global Economy” brought Rivoli’s message full circle. Rivoli talked about how his Tshirt finally reaches a free market after following it’s entire lifecycle. Like other students commented, this section reminded me of the movie watched in TMD224. This movie painted a dismal picture of the recycled clothing industry in Africa. Rivoli expressed a very different perspective, stating the benefits that the recycled clothing industry brings to underdeveloped/developing countries. In addition, the recycled clothing industry has become its own division of the US textile/apparel sector. It creates jobs for US workers that are recycling clothing and creates entrepreneurship opportunities for people selling those recycled clothes in other countries. For example, Rivoli talks about Geofrey Milonge, who operated many mitumba stalls in the Manzese market. Geofrey began selling recycled clothing to escape the poverty of his rural village. I never thought about the life my tshirts have another I donate them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. It is also concerning to think about the inexcusable amount of clothing that Americans throw away every year. Even though the clothes can be passed on to others, it is still wasteful. In addition, while many people recycle their used clothing, many people just throw them out! I was shocked to read about the wealthy soccer moms who fight to throw away huge bags of clothing and go shopping later in the day to buy new ones. Especially with “fast fashion” becoming increasing popular, apparel goes out of style very quickly and we feel the need to replace them. I personally feel as though this trend will only continue. I want to make an effort to only buy clothing that I feel I will get sufficient use out of.

    I enjoyed learning about the global textile and apparel market in this book. It was interesting to read about some of the “winners” and “losers” in globalization like we talked about in class. I liked that Rivoli ended this book on an optimistic note. He said “To watch the dizzying innovations of the last few years, I can only believe that tomorrow’s tshirt will have a better story still. The future isn’t perfect, but its brighter than it used to be.”

  9. I really enjoyed the last park of the book. I think it was a great ending and really put things into perspective for me. I found it interesting when it stated “rich Americans – or even middle-class Americans – excel at throwing things away, and the richer we become, the bigger the mounds of cast-off clothing swell” (page 216). I found this statement really interesting because I never looked at giving away clothing in the perspective of other countries. Americans take their wealth, and amounts of clothing, for granted. What really struck me and made me open my eyes towards the situation was the statement “where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings, and can clothe another child or two” (page 222). It is sad to realize that what we find to be old and “out of style”, people in other countries find fashionable and in good enough condition to wear to special occasions, such as weddings. While I find it disturbing that Americans are so easy to let perfectly good clothing go just because they are over it, I am comforted with the fact that our old, thrown away clothing is finding a second life in other countries, especially Africa. “As Americans continuously clean out our bigger and bigger but still-too-small closets so that we can head back to the mall to buy more, we create an exploding supply of used clothing that shifts the balance of market power to the African customer” (page 224). It is sad, but refreshing to read that even though Africans would love new clothes, they are more than happy to receive Americans’ “leftovers”. It really makes you think about what is important in life.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading through the progression of the book – from learning where the cotton comes from to how t-shirts are produced and distributed to where they end up in the end. I am really glad I had the opportunity to read this books and get insight on the globalization of the textile and apparel industry.

  10. I liked reading the last part of this book because it brought a lot of clarity to topics that I did not know a lot about. Some things I never even would think about, like what happens to my clothes after I donate them. It was definitely interesting as well as eye opening to read about people in other countries and how they make use of our used clothing.

    Every year at least once or twice, my mom and I go through our stuff and decide what we never wear, then donate it. It never crossed my mind what might happen to it once it’s donated, and it is reassuring to think that there could be people in other countries making good use out of things that I just consider ugly or out of style. This industry was actually described as fun, and it made me feel a lot better about donating some of my clothes.

    Like many of my classmates have mentioned, we watched a movie in TMD 224 about the topic of donating clothes and how it was actually negatively effecting Africa. It made me hesitant to even donate clothes because I did not want to contribute to the deterioration of their economy. Nyereres vision which was discussed in the book reminded me of this movie, because he did not support the “mitumba”/used clothing for people in Africa.

    I enjoyed reading about Geofrey and his company. It was crazy to me how much he was able to expand this business, even with the odds against him.

    Overall this book gave me a better vision of the textile and apparel industry which I someday hope to be involved in. It made me more aware of all of the issues and problems the industry faces, but also gave a lot of positive outlook on a lot of issues.

  11. I enjoyed reading the last part of the book because it really brought Rivoli’s message full circle. As other students have said, it definitely reminded me of what we learned in TMD 224, so I was not at all surprised to read that most of what American’s donate is given to 3rd world countries, especially Africa. I personally think it is a shame how wasteful Americans (including myself) can be with their clothing, especially when we are fighting so hard to keep the textile industry in our country profitable. What gives me hope though is that even though our clothing may have a short life in our closets, it is then given to countries who really need it to sustain their economies. Our old clothing gives people in other countries a chance to expand their businesses, like Geofrey. This idea that our old unwanted clothing can mean the difference of eating or not eating to a family in another country really brings the idea of globalization home, and makes it that much more tangible.

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Travels of a T-shirt”, because it helped to give more relatable face to the textile industry. The personal stories and successes and hardships of the people profiled helped me to better understand what the problems in the industry are, and how complicated it is to fix them. I feel much better informed after reading this book and like I have a better grasp on our textile and apparel industry and the problems surrounding it.

  12. In my opinion, Part IV was the most interesting part of “Travels of a T-Shirt.” I couldn’t help but feel guilty when reading about the absurd amount of clothing American’s throw away or donate each year. I have filled so many trash bags filled with clothing to give to Goodwill and then found myself at the mall the next week. It is sort of selfish of us to do this, but at the same time, others are able to benefit. I’ve always known that American’s get priority over the clothing before they are sent off to third world countries, but it is mostly t-shirts that are on children, women and mens backs. I don’t think, however, categorizing all Americans that donate clothing as “rich” is fair; “where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing” (222). When you think about it people turn their noses up at wearing clothing that is “so last season” when really, it is perfectly good clothing that might just not be in style at that exact moment. People in third world countries would kill to have the clothes that we so arrogantly dismiss.

    I think that the book really became a story by the last part, when at first I took each part as it’s own story. The story of the Reinsch cotton farm came full circle and became much more relatable by the end. This book helped me understand so many more aspects of the T&A industry than I ever thought I would know of. I can be confident going into the industry with so much more knowledge simply from reading this book.

  13. Part four of Travels of a T-shirt went more in depth on a topic that I had learned about in another class a few years back. However, I did learn some new and shocking things. It was interesting to learn the Bill Clinton was the most free trade friendly president in the U.S because I was unaware of this. I found it upsetting that the United States kept a tight quota system in place with high tariffs that prevented the developing countries from becoming prosperous. All countries deserve the right to become prosperous. This is selfish of the U.S considering they earn more tariff revenue from poor developing countries than they do from prosperous ones.
    Even though the United States does not have a big textile and apparel manufacturing sector anymore and factories in places like North Carolina are closing, Americans still have the ability to get jobs elsewhere, in other industries. In poor developing countries the people making the textiles and apparel do not have any other choice. Manufacturing T&A are their only means of income.
    It is amazing that the United States exported nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothing to the rest of the world between 1990 and 2003. It is even more amazing that certain countries adore this used clothing. However, it is sad that even when this used clothing is sent to places such as Africa, most people cannot even afford the price of the used clothing. This industry of sending our used clothing that does not fit in second hand stores to poor countries has become very controversial.

  14. I think it is safe to say that Part IV of the T-Shirt Travels book was my favorite, mainly because I learned a lot about a different culture. First of all, I never even thought about the U.S. used clothing market and how we export a ton of used clothes to other countries. I particularly found it interesting when the author mentioned the supply and demand differences between men’s clothing and women’s clothing on page 230. Understandably, American women change their clothing style and go through different clothes more often than men, which is why their used clothing is frequently available in African markets. What I found most interesting is that “…African women’s clothing preferences exclude much of Western fashion while men clamor for the limited supply of t-shirts, khakis, and suits that are in good condition” and that due to the lack of supply for the African men’s demand, the cost of used men’s clothing is more expensive than women’s. It makes perfect sense, yet is unfortunate for those customers, especially when most of the country is poor. I also found it interesting when the author mentioned that some people may want to stop donating their clothes to Salvation Army if they knew that instead of allowing the Africans to have the clothes for free, mitumba workers would sell the clothing and make a profit. I like how the author explains the difficulties of “suppressing mitumba trade” and how the trade actually benefits Africa’s economy in some ways because it provides jobs for a lot of people. In the end, the author mentions the possibility of exporting used goods to China. It will be interesting to see if this happens soon…

  15. Part IV really put the world into perspective for me. I was shocked to hear that almost half of the clothing we consider as garbage here is formal clothes for less fortunate people in other countries; it shows how wasteful we are and how we forget how much globalization has affected the industry. Although there is a market for used clothes here, it is very small as opposed to in other countries where the demand is much higher.

    I learned about the Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited. They sell all types of products from Tanzania to other countries throughout the world. I had no idea so many countries do not allow the import of used clothing. This can lead to secret underground trade. This shows how trade policies can directly change the textile and apparel industry.

  16. I was quickly able to relate to the beginning of Part IV of The Travels of a T-Shirt because I too have gone through periods of having too many T-shirts. It was this sections summation, through the introduction of the final phase or destination of a T-shirt, which really tied everything together. I found it interesting that the T-shirt enters a “real market” at the final stage of its life, after it is donated. It was most interesting to find that the supply of the Salvation Army now outweighs domestic demand, and as a result has led to the success of the U.S. recycled clothing export industry. I was surprised to learn that between 1995 and 2007 that the U.S. exported 9 billion pounds of used clothing to the rest of the world; That for many sub-Saharan countries American used clothing represents one of Americas leading exports and for several is is America’s largest export. This made me realize how quickly American’s go through clothing, and how short fashion cycles are. I was not shocked to find that women have a higher turnover of clothing and that there is seven times as much women’s clothing then mens in the world supply.
    I did not realize how large the market for used clothing was until this section; so big that it is even broken down further into three categories, sale, rags, and fiber, all very profitable. I found it interesting to learn how many different things “shoddy” material is used for, and I would have never thought there would be so many parameters in place for selecting wiping rag material from a used T-shirt. I also was intrigued by the fact that the Japanese are high buyers of used American T-shirts.
    It was interesting to see how much the mitumba market mirriors the more complex ones found in developed regions. Similar to developed markets, the mitumba market consists of buyers who look for the proper bales, sellers, consumers, wholesalers who sell to other mitumba dealers, “personal shoppers” who try to match the used clothing with a specific buyer, and “Walmarts” or piles of clothing at discount prices. It was interesting to see how this African area was experiencing similar job destruction and creation from globalization similarly to that of the U.S., how it took away manufacturing jobs but also created jobs within the market. I though how the author introduced the juxtaposition of job loss in North Carolina from low wage workers in China, and the loss of jobs within the African textile industry from high wage workers of America, was very interesting.
    The theme I found which was apparent in every chapter throughout the book was that it is all about politics. I didn’t realize how intertwined the textile and apparel industries were with politics until this book.

  17. I enjoyed reading the last section of Travels of a T-shirt because it wrapped up all of the information that I had learned through out the book. In TMD 433 we learn a lot about the global economy and but this book shows the true impact of how we are effected. While reading the last part my eyes were truly opened by all of the information presented. The most interesting part of this part was Tanzania and its clothing market. We learned in this part of the book how Tanzania clothing dealers and how unlike in our country , their business survives off of 10% profit. This part was really interesting to me because in America this would never be the case. To think that “jewels” in other country’s we just pass on to the salvation army or throw away because it isn’t of value to us anymore is something that other countries make a living off of. A quote that stood out to me was “The used clothing trade is a dance of the gazelles with no protection from the lions.” This really opened my eyes of how fortunate we are as a country. Also this part of the book was so interesting due to the fact that we claim our country to be suffering but throw away our clothing which is valuable. Overall I really enjoyed this book! I found it very interesting and educational. It was an easy read and it encouraged me to find more information on this topic and further my research. But the most important thing I learned is that I will think twice and always look at tags before purchasing garments. Lastly this book gave me a better idea about the industry that I plan to be a part of.

  18. Part Four of “The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy” really summed up the ending stages of a t-shirt within the realms of the United States. As I read the fourth part of the book, I could not help but remember the video I had watched within my TMD 224 class sophomore year. The video showcased the process of the recycled clothing industry within Africa. Throughout the video, people in Africa would buy bundles of used clothing from the United States in order to resell such bundles in African markets. Though there are a continuous amount of used clothing being sold outside of the United States, the people of Africa who sell such clothing have to hope they receive a good enough bundle where they could sell all the clothing in order to make a living.

    Part Four highlighted the recycled clothing industry into a more positive outlook. With a market so vase, the recycled clothing industry has created jobs for people inside and outside of the United States. Especially in our economy today, it was very surprising to read that millions of Americans carelessly throw away old clothes instead of donating or recycling them. With fashion in the United States becoming increasing in and out of “style” so quickly, I believe it is very important for Americans to start donating or even recycling old clothes in order for other countries or even people in our own country to receive recycled clothing.

    Overall, “The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy” really opened my eyes to the ins and outs of the textile and apparel industry through Rivoli’s highlights of the negative and positives that create the industries to what they are today.

  19. Part four reminded me of the video I saw in TMD 224. It was interesting to read about this process from a different point of view. Unlike the video in TMD 224 the t-shirt book described the recycling process in a positive light. When donating old clothes in the past I have never thought about where they might end up. Reading about how developing countries make a living off our donated clothes makes me appreciative for what I have. I had no idea before reading part 4 that the United States had a high tariff system which prevented countries from developing. To me it seems selfish of the United States considering we have so much compared to many of these countries. Since the textile and apparel industry is the only means of income for many people in developing countries I don’t agree with the United States high tariffs. It is sad to read how much these countries appreciate and value our donated clothing. To us they are garbage but to many people in Africa they are still unaffordable.

  20. Part IV left off with a great ending and really summed up the whole book for me. Tanzania and their clothing market meant the most to me. I don’t think most of us Americans realize how fortunate we are as a country. We, including myself, are definitely for the most part spoiled when it comes to our clothing. We are always trying to stick with the latest trends and get rid of something just because it’s “out of style.” These clothes of ours that aren’t necessarily “in” anymore are still very valuable and most of us don’t recognize this. On the other hand, third world countries don’t have the advantages that we do and we tend to take those advantages for granted. The countries that receive the clothes that we donate to Goodwill feel very fortunate and lucky for anything that they get. They don’t care what they receive, they just care about having something on their backs. I know the U.S. is very different than these third world countries but we should try and learn a lesson from them and learn to appreciate the things we have more.

    Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book because I certainly learned a lot about the T&A industry and it helped open my eyes to many new things. It provided a lot of useful information that I’m hoping I can one day use in my future.

  21. After reading Part IV of this book, I found that it really tied the entire book together. After I have learned about where textiles come from, how they are put together, how they are sold, and finally what happens to them after people are done using them.
    The first chapter was really interesting to me. Myself and my family have donated a lot of clothes to Good Will and Salvation Army, but I never thought about what happens to the clothes that you do not think are in a good enough condition to be put back on their floor. The book did a very nice job explaining all of the different separation parts to figure out where each item is going to go. I thought it was interesting how Trans- Americans separates their clothes into three different sections, but then goes down into sub sections. Also, I never thought about how different countries would want different items from here the the U.S. For example, how the Japanese like Nike, Disney and Levi, so Trans-Americans sends those clothing items there to make a better profit out of them rather than re-selling them in the US. Also, how a majority of the clothing items goes to Africa to help the people there. All of them need clothing, so why not sell them the clothing that people here do not want.
    In the second section, It was hard learning about how much people in Tanzania actually had. It is understandable that people in Africa want to have their own style and do not want to wear what American’s have thrown away, but the cost of our clothing is so cheap, it would be difficult for them not to use it. Learning about the mitumba market was eye opening to me. a pair of Dockers goes got $5.00 there and is considered “high-end” clothing. Also, jeans are considered high end clothing. It is amazing to think that since jeans are apart of our everyday clothing, and something that people usually have so much. It was something that I have never really thought of as high end. Learning about the different stories with Geofrey and the METL, being able to start off with nothing and end with something that they are proud of was interesting to read. With hard work, and knowing the right clothing to pick, it was a true success stories for both of these cases.
    In the final chapter, the debate is on about whether matumbas are actually good for the African economy. After reading the chapter, I think that they have helped. They have created more jobs for the people there, for example giving people tailoring jobs and it has also been a good way for people working in the matumba to form relationships, trust and social networks. The book says that people enjoy going there also, so why would people want to ban something that people enjoy? If they like it enough, even if a ban was put on it, people would find ways around it. Tying China back into all of this, The book talks about how China does not have enough to send castoffs to Africa, but if it were to happen that China would buy American castoffs, there would not be anything for the rest of the people. China would be able to use all aspects of castoffs and as Stubin says “there would be little left for Africa, and nothing left for tran-Americas”. After reading this book, I think I have learned a lot about what goes into our T-shirts, the selling of them, and where they go after. There is so much information that I did not know before and I think I have a better understanding of the Textile and Apparel Industry now than I did before.

  22. I found the last part of the Travels of a T-Shirt to be the most relate-able. Part four discusses the the recycling industry of apparel. Recycled clothing has been a very successful export industry. This industry surprisingly thrives off of the business of old T-shirts and is run by thousands of small family businesses. One aspect while reading that caught my attention was that between the years of 1995 and 2007, the United States exported nearly nine billion pounds of used clothing and other worn textile products to the rest of the world. This caught my attention because I thought it was interesting to read how large of an industry the recycling apparel industry and how much clothing is actually donated. It is interesting because while it is so large, people do not normally hear of these family businesses. It is also interesting to learn how much of a profit someone’s old clothing that they considered “trash” can make.

    Being the youngest out of all of my cousins and family, I feel as though I can relate a lot to this part of the book. This is because I grew up wearing hand-me-downs. Also, I clean out my entire closet at least once a year and either hand my clothes down to people I know personally or donate them to salvation army. It is nice to know that the clothes I donated are actually being worn by others and they are getting use out of it when I no longer would be. Another interesting thing that was mentioned in this last part of the book was that the clothing that is recycled and cannot be worn by others, either because it is too torn or stained, is still useful. These clothes are then used as wiping rags in factories, which is a good way to use resources. It was also intriguing to find out that the majority of the recycling clothing industry is of T-shirts.

    Overall, I liked this book more than I thought I would. I think that it was beneficial as someone who wants to work in the textile and apparel industry to read such a book about what actually goes on during certain processes. I thought the way in which the author wrote the Travels of a T-shirt made it very understandable and eye opening for the reader.

  23. Part IV of the T-Shirt Travels book was very relevant to the average middle class women consumer like myself. I am very familiar with the Salvation Army because I myself donate clothing as a ‘spring cleaning’ routine. I found it interesting that the T-shirt enters a ‘real market’ at the final stage of its life, after it is donated. What really opened my eyes to just how wasteful the US can be is when I found out that the supply of the Salvation Army now outweighs domestic demand and has led to the US export clothing industry. It is interesting to no that though the US is so concerned about fighting to keep the textile industry in our country profitable yet this is a leading export of ours. It is inexcusable how much Americans waste, even if this clothing is being passed on.

    Part four gave me a complete perspective on where my clothing traveled. I never realized that in the scheme of things, Americans ‘wasteful attitude’ created so many different job opportunities abroad. I found it interesting that the industry operated much in a way like developed countries. The industry thrived off of talents in spotting valuables, relationships and connections to suppliers, and personal knowledge about their customers. Seeing how the merchandise was divided between regions and valued differently depending on the brand or character was so different from our culture that looks at fashion as disposable and out of season. It makes me question my own materialistic value. It was refreshing to read about the opportunity created for the African economy to provide jobs and enter the economic ladder.

  24. I found part four of the book to be the most interesting. It was a real eye opener to learn about where the clothing that we donate is really going. I had no idea that so much of it was being exported to other countries. The book talked about how rich Americans just throw their clothing away and it is so true. So many of us throw away perfectly good clothes and sometimes items we have never even worn before because we grow tired of them or decide that we don’t like them anymore. We as Americans sometimes don’t appreciate how lucky we truly are. Other countries happily accept the clothing that we throw away because they need them. They are unable to go out and buy a new outfit whenever they feel like it, and they rely on the clothing that we export to them. What we as Americans see as “trash,” people in other countries are more than happy to receive and use as their primary clothing.

  25. After reading Part III, I was interested to read the ending of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. One thing that I learned that I found really interesting was that the United States ships it’s used clothing to other countries, like Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. It’s kind of like that quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I think it’s very cool that other countries wear our recycled clothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the clothing other then America got tired of it. I would take full advantage of that if I lived in another country as well.
    Another thing I found interesting is that when Herni Minion spent the summer of 2008 in Dar Es Salaam that the people were dressed very similar to Americans. The Washington D.C. students blended in with the people of Dar Es Salaam. I would have expected them to have their own culture, and different style of dress. I think it’s weird though that smaller sized clothing is more expensive than bigger sizes. Also, if a specific color of a shirt is more popular, it will cost more. I guess this makes sense when you think about it, because people or going to buy the shirt regardless because it’s trendy. So Dar Es Salaam markets raise the prices because they can. I’d say it’s safe to say we are lucky it is not like that in America.
    I also find it ironic that in China the price of Chinese made clothing is decreasing and the Price of American used clothing is increasing. The people in China want American used clothing of Chinese made clothing. Because of this, Chinese clothing will start to make better quality clothing. The reason the people want American used Clothing is because the quality is better than Chinese made clothing. I really enjoyed reading this book and I learned a lot information about the world that I never knew before.

  26. I really enjoyed reading part IV of the book I really identified with it and it made me think. The tales of the Tanzania and the clothing dealers was really interesting. It let us look at the work of those clothing dealers and how they buy bales of clothing to sell but only make 10% profit from the amount of the bale they sell. This was shocking to me because that would never happen in the United States, a business man would never only make 10% profit here.

    One part of this section that really struck a cord with me was when it was talking about how the soccer mom gets rid of last seasons clothing in her closet to make room for the new seasons clothing. I think that that is something we all do or have done at some point in our lives. We get rid of clothing to be in style even when the economy is this bad and money is tight. It seems so wasteful and silly when you compare it to what other countries are going through to get clothing that we give to the Salvation Army. We as Americans are so focused on fast fashion and getting the newest hottest trends right away we aren’t even thinking about how wasteful we are being in doing so. One quote in the book really stuck out to me and it was talking about this exact issue, ” the hunt for treasure does not stop with the clothing, but extends to the pockets, as Americans throw away not just perfectly good closing, but perfectly good money as well.” This quote really made me think and made me want to make a conscious effort to not just throw things out and to purchase clothing that will be long lasting. We as Americans waste a lot and this section was very informative and striking to me because we don’t even think about how wasteful we are truly being.

  27. As I read this section of the book, a lot of things crossed my mind, which made me think of how I treat my old clothes and what they mean to me. Many times, I use old t shirts as cleaning rags, or I donate them. I had seen a movie in another course a couple years ago that gave insight to how third world countries sell these donated clothes in their version of a clothing market. These people were explaining how our old and used clothing is how they make their living, and how their society is able to dress themselves. When we donate our clothes, it is as though we are providing jobs for people who can sell them for their own profit. When I read about Tanzania, I kept thinking of everything I saw in this movie, and it all made such more sense to me after knowing what now understand from reading this book.
    It was such an eye-opening read, as I understand now that what we see as trash, others find employment with! Overall, I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t too complicated to understand, and I would it easy to connect real life situations as well as class discussion.

  28. Part IV of “The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy” was my favorite part of the book because it brought the whole book together. I was never exactly sure where donated clothes end up and I am so glad that this book and our class opened my eyes to this concept. It is astonishing that between 1995 and 2007, the United States exported nearly 9 billion pounds of used clothing and other worn textile products to the rest of the world. I’ve always known that donating clothes was a good cause but I never realized how many people and countries benefit from a small deed. For example, Rivoli mentioned that some types of clothing are more valuable to certain consumers than others. A Mickey Mouse t-shirt that is in perfect condition is worth a lot in Japan. It is amazing that a shirt that may have only been worn a few times could be so valuable to people in other countries. I never would have realized how big of a process this industry is either. Rivoli states “today, used clothing businesses sort clothing into more than 400 different categories”.

    When Rivoli discussed the bales of clothing being sorted, bought and sold it reminded me on the video we watched in class. For example, the book states, “The U.S.-sorted bales cost a bit more, but the jewels are less likely to have been skimmed off and you get a lot less junk”. I remember the boy in the video saying the same thing. Hearing about how much other countries appreciate clothing from the U.S. makes me appreciate what I have a lot more.

    On the other hand it was interesting to learn that not all countries allow imports of used clothing. “More than thirty countries ban the imports through prohibitions or numerous bureaucratic walls. Some of these laws were established to try to save local textile industries”. Rivoli pointed out that some people think U.S. clothing that has been donated should be free but this would remove a lot of income to people in Africa. I may have agreed that the donations should be free until I read this book and learned so much. Overall, I am grateful that I was introduced to this book and I have definitely learned things that I will never forget.

  29. Reading the last section of, “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy,” I was embarrassed by the way some Americans act in society. My family and I have been donating old clothing to the Salvation Army and the Veterans for a long time but never actually thought about where the clothing went after donating it. Reading this I thought about a movie we watched in TMD222 where we saw kids in other countries wearing old t-shirts and how the old t-shirts go to other countries for other people to wear. I get rid of old clothing usually because it doesn’t fit anymore after a couple of years. It kind of disgusted me when I read the part about someone in an SUV Lexus dropping off clothing from last season just to make more room in her closet for next season. I enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot about the clothing and textile trade. It really opened my eyes up to the truth, it has made me more aware of where and how my clothing is made.

  30. Part four I found to be the most interesting and enjoyable to read. I have learned a little about this topic in the past and it interested me the most. “It’s only the final chapter of the T-shirt’s life that world trade patterns are fashioned by economics rather than politics. Within the thirteenth chapter it speaks about where American clothing goes once we dispose of it. If we give the clothes to salvation army or if we donate them in one of those kiosks placed randomly in towns. Within just America there is thousand of family second hand businesses. If the clothing does not go to these businesses its send over to Africa where clothing starts a second life. Something that surprised me was that winter clothing has more limited market then summer clothing. Also while reading this section of the book it explains that “Japan is usually the largest consumer for American used clothing” This surprised me because in class we explore the higher class Japan who can purchase new designer clothing and not have to worry about American used shirts. Jumping back to Africa within the book it then explains something ironic. The clothing go from the “richest to poorest” place on earth. Americans are very careless about clothing and will wear something for a little then throw it away. Sadly I am part of this. Some things I tend to wear only once then give to salvation army. Within the next two chapters it speaks about what happens after the clothing makes it way to Africa. A salesman in Tanzania makes a living buying clothes, hulling them back to town and selling them for about 25 cents to 2 dollars each. Many people will buy from the same sales man, because they trust the salesman for good clothing. But the salesman takes a huge risk buying a bag of clothing. It can be a bag full of great quality things he can sell that day or they can be no good. On a good day the salesman can sell ten to fifty shirts. This is a huge range of possibility. There was so much information in these last few chapters that I found interesting and I would love to do more research on where American clothing goes after their first life. This is what really appeals to me. Overall this book was very enjoyable and it was very eye-opening to see where a t-shirt does travel within its life of a shirt.

  31. Part IV o the T-Shirt book completed the lifecycle of a T-shirt. I really enjoyed how they referenced the soccer moms driving expensive cars trying to get rid of “old” clothes to make room for the new ones. Their “old” clothes are then sent over to foreign countries and are put onto a whole new market. The clothes that we disregard and do not want anymore are other countries way to make a living. They take our old clothes and sell them on their streets. Previously referenced this makes me think of the video we watched in 224. I was unaware that these people only make a 10% profit off of these barrels of t-shirts. If American stores were only making a 10% profit, they would probably close due to going out of business.
    I have a new perspective on this way of life and our “old” shirts. Before I saw it as a horrible living situation. Now I believe that it is a good way for them to better their way of living. When we throw away designer or nicer clothes, these help them make a better living because they sell for more. If Americans knew that our old clothes were fought over for someone else to make a profit and a way of life I think they would be amazed. It did surprise me thatJapan is the largest market for used American clothing. I had never fully thought about it before, but I guess I did not think that they would have been it. I feel ashamed to know that I am part of the American population that does not wear out clothing before replacing them. We are brought up in a society that needs to keep changing and keeping up with new styles. By donating my clothes it makes me feel like it is okay to buy new ones, even though there are already tons of clothes being donated everyday. The used American clothing industry in other countries is a major part of their way of life.

  32. Part IV of the t-shirt book came across a topic that I am passionate about. “According to the Department of Commerce, the United States ships used clothing to Poland, the Ukraine, and Russia, and used clothing Internet message boards often contain expressions of interest from the poorer side of Europe” ( 223). The trade of used clothing is a big industry. In my tmd222 class (Apparel Production) we watched a video about the United States selling clothing to other countries. Vendors of those other countries then go to their commerce center and buy a bound bale which contains a large quantity of clothing. That clothing is then sold at stands to natives of those countries. There is a large chain of steps in this process of American clothing that Americans no longer wish to wear, due to boredom, to countries in poverty buying and selling this clothing to make a living and have something to put on their backs.
    It is ironic that people from Europe, New York, and Los Angeles are willing to pay top-dollar for 1970s rock band t-shirts. This is called Vintage. “An old Rolling Stones T-shirt to Africa is a lose-lose, as African consumers couldn’t care less about the Rolling Stones and also do not like visible wear and tear” (222). A Rolling Stones 1972 concert t-shirt could sell for $300 in an American hip-vintage store, Africans could care less and if the shirt is worn they are an unhappy customer if found in their bound bale” (222). I am a fan of vintage myself and it is just astounding how much of a difference American and Africans live their lives. Americans only like used clothing if there is a symbolic purpose to the shirt, but Africans want used clothing that is not worn and have no attachment to any specific rock band.

  33. After reading Part IV of Travels of a T-shirt, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for ever complaining “I have nothing to wear”. In the American culture we are accustomed to always needing “new” and “more” of everything while there are other countries where people are thankful to receive a recycled t-shirt. Hearing about the cycle of clothing and how America’s used clothing is reused in many African cultures reminded me of the book “Recycling Indian Clothing: Global Contexts of Reuse and Value” that I read in TMD 224. It went into great detail about the journey of where our donated clothing goes after we drop it off at a donation center. Reading these chapters in Travels of a T-shirt on the industry of recycled clothing just reiterates for me how many different aspects there are of the T&A industry; it is almost over-whelming.

  34. I really enjoyed reading part 4 of Travels of a T-shirt because it really brought the whole thing together from the beginning of where and how a t-shirt starts, to where it ends up. This quote in particular really stuck out at me. “Rich- Americans-or even middle class Americans- excel at throwing things away, and the richer we become, the bigger the mounds of cast-off clothing swell.” This is very true, we always want the next best things, even if the clothes we have now are in perfectly good condition, we will still go out and buy more. It actually find it really sad that the Salvation Army can’t even except all of the clothing that people are throwing away because there simply isn’t enough space for it all which is such a waste. This makes me want to reconsider the amount that I purchase just because I want it rather than actually needing it.

    However, in Chapter 12, throwing away so much doesn’t seem so bad when they end up in places like Tanzania where they are providing clothing for people living in poverty. In 2007, used clothing was America’s third-largest export to Tanzania, so this has become a benefit for both the U.S and Tanzania. Chapter 13 however, discusses how more than 30 countries ban the import of used clothing. I always thought of it as a benefit for underdeveloped countries to have used clothing provided to them, but this section and book all together has exposed me to the many limits and issues regarding textiles and trade throughout the world.

  35. I really enjoyed the last part of “The Travels of a T-shirt” because it really put the entire life cycle of an object into perspective. I found the statistical evidence of how much clothing is thrown away each year by Americans to be somewhat disturbing. It is somewhat contradictory that we as Americans are so eager to keep up with the rising trends and fuel this obsession of imports, but at the same time are incredibly wasteful and ignorant with how fast we are to throw these items away. I was shocked to hear that the United States exported nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothing to the rest of the world between 1990 and 2003. A point a found really interesting is when the author addressed the idea that if people stopped donating their clothing to the Salvation Army so that Africans can get it for free, it could be sold by mitumba workers in order to make a profit. This is an interesting idea because in that sense we would actually be creating a market in these third world countries and creating jobs to better their economy at the same time. Overall, I found the travels of a t-shirt to be very informative and give insight to all of the different aspects from production to distribution and everything in between.

  36. Part IV was my favorite part of the book. Coming from a family who did not have much money, we relied heavily on hand-me-down clothes. During our annual closet clean out to discard old clothes that we no longer wear, we never once threw any clothes in the trash, we always donated them. I think that is one of the best things to do with old clothing, and I was so glad to read that it is included in the life cycle of clothing. I do not often give much thought to where exactly the clothes go after they are donated, so it was interesting to read on and learn that people will seek out the wrinkled and musty smelling garments because they are more likely to be new, rather than clean pressed garments that were probably pre-owned and washed.

  37. No one really stops to think about how global this industry is and how powerful the leaders are. Knowing that a simple t-shirt travels from one country to the next and ends up back in those undeveloped countries is amazing to comprehend. America can be spoiled at times and feel as though they do not have enough but there are those people in poorer countries who will even get married in used hand-me downs. At the end of the day, it is how we look at textiles today and how much we really appreciate what we have.

  38. Just as you had suggested, part IV definitely is similar to the movie I watched in Blaire Gagnons “Culture, Dress and Appearance” class that followed the life of a T-shirt donated to goodwill. Because of the movie, I Personally can see how this business is viewed as villainous industry. It followed the life of the few individuals trapped in poverty, Traveling far in efforts to sell packages of T-shirts to try to raise their families or younger siblings. Often even these individuals are unaware of the product they are buying in their package just as the wholesalers are when they get there bales.

    I think it’s interesting how the rules for trading used clothing globally are so much less defined. And it’s controversial because while many people are not even aware of where their donated clothes end up, others don’t agree with the Salvation Army’s purpose. From Brooklyn to Africa, it sure is in interesting trip and I highly recommend watching the movie in addition to this book!

  39. I really enjoyed reading about what happens to a t-shirt, after a long process of producing it, in the last part of the textbook. In Chapter 13, I enjoyed reading about Trans-America. I thought the Stubin family had an extremely interesting job as collecting unwanted donated clothes from charities and applying them for other uses. I thought that charities usually took all of the clothing donated them. But, after reading about this family, I can see how there are other uses for unwanted clothing. I also thought it was interesting how the clothing then travels to less fortunate countries like parts of Europe, Philippines, Chile, and Africa. I think it is ironic how we have clothing, like the t-shirt, imported from other countries and then export that exact t-shirt to other countries. Some of those countries might even be the one who produced the t-shirt in the first place. In Chapter 14, I liked reading about Tanzania and how the United States can help such a poor country. It was interesting to read about how Dockers are $5 in their market and they are usually only bought by Tanzania’s upper class. I also thought it was interesting how blue jeans are considered high end, as well. In America, I can guarantee that everybody owns a pair of blue jeans. It is crazy how different clothing styles are in foreign countries and how Americans may take a pair of jeans for granted because they are so common here. Lastly, it was interesting to read about Geofrey, who had opening his own business, became a whole seller, and had been quite successful at it in Africa. In Chapter 15, I think that the fact that Geofrey (from Africa) and Ed Stubin (from America) are both worried about China. I think that it is interesting that two people, from completely different worlds, agree on the fact that China is very powerful in the textile industry. After reading section 3 and 4 of “The Travels Of A T-Shirt In The Global Economy”, I better understand how people may be scared of China. Overall, I enjoyed reading this textbook. I definitely have a better understanding of the textile and apparel industry, and all of the policies and rules that come along with it. I cannot say that I am excited for what the future holds in the textile industry for America, but I am interested to see if everyone’s predictions in the textbook are correct.

  40. Like many of my classmates said earlier, the fourth section of this book brought me back to sophomore year and learning about recycled clothing in TMD 224. I’m sure most people have donated clothes thru out there life. I know for myself I have donated numerous garbage bags of clothes to the Red Cross, and after reading this book I can’t sit back and not wonder where those clothes are now? This book brought alot into perspective and put the idea of re-using and distributing clothes to other parts of the world into a positive perspective.

    There was one quote in particular in Chapter 13 that truly made me think and wonder how our society has gotten to the point where there is no fine line between wanting something and needing it. ” Where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings, and can clothe another child or two”. Will we ever be content with our “bigger and bigger but still two small closet’? Maybe if more people read this book and learned the truths of the textile industry and where there clothing goes after they are done with it they might think differently.

  41. Part IV of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” book was by far the most interesting section I read, specifically Tanzania and their clothing market. Many of the Tanzanian clothing dealers will buy bulks of clothing where most of their profit will be 10% of those bales. Where as in the U.S no business owner could survive with only 10% as their profit. Also another eye opener I would have to say is the discussion on camaraderie parties, where the dealers would go through the piles of clothing to find “the jewels”; which refer to a well-known name brand clothing. Its astonishing to think that a great deal of clothing passed on from the U.S and exported to other countries, means a lot of profit to another country. Nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothing are exported to the rest of the world between 1990 and 2003. The quote “The hunt for treasure does not stop with the clothing, but extends to the pockets, as Americans throw away not just perfectly good clothing put perfectly good money as well- U.S. dollars, no less”, is in my opinion so true. In this time where our economy isn’t doing so well we are throwing away our money (the clothes). It really makes me believe how we can be so ungrateful at times when other countries are in poorer conditions and would be happy with re-used clothing. The book mentions how jeans are marked as “high-end” items, which means more money they will make, this also refers to the college and sports shirts. The re-used clothing business is a huge benefit for those countries. This book further expanded my knowledge on how the manufacturing and retailing process is a vital part of the global economy. Never really realized how America’s retail market has a huge impact on the rest of the world. Overall I found this book an easy and interesting read. I feel that I have a better understanding of the T&A industry and global economy as a whole.

  42. I never realized just how large of a market the used clothing market is, especially worldwide. For many years I have donated my old clothes that no longer fit me to consignment shops or the Goodwill but always just assumed bargain shoppers in America were the ones who were buying them. The fact that used American clothing is so popular in Japan and Africa was fascinating to me. One statistic that really stood out to me was that between 1995 and 2007 the U.S. exported about 9 billion pounds worth of used clothing, which is an outstanding amount. I, personally, am very picky with what I buy if I do buy something used. I always fear that there is some kind of story behind the garment, or whatever the item may be, that may lead me to not want to buy it, but the people in Africa, especially, are so happy and grateful to get our used clothing imported to their country. Not only does the used clothing market provide jobs and income for Africans, but according to The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy, Africans have the same type of fashion senses as we do in America, so, essentially, they are getting fashionable, popular garments at cheap prices. What I found most interesting in this section of the book was how, in the African used clothing market, shoppers actually want to buy the clothing items that have a musty smell to them and are wrinkled, as opposed to neatly pressed and fresh-smelling garments. The logic behind this is that clothes that smell fresh and look new are usually the ones that have been pre-sorted in Africa and were not newly shipped from the U.S. In America, we tend to be very detail-oriented and want the nicest quality items without any stains, wrinkles, etc. so it was appealing to me to learn about how those factors are not looked at in the same way in Africa. In terms of sustainability, I think the used clothing market is a great way to recycle garments and cause less waste and harm on the environment. Sustainability is becoming a popular and important issue in America, so I think it’s nice to see that people really are taking into consideration what they can do to better the planet and use materials as efficiently as possible.

  43. The last chapters of “The Travel of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy was interesting and informative. Some of the information given was new to me. I thought it was very interesting the book discussed the textile industry in Africa because it is not often talk about. One of the facts I found interesting was, between 1995 and 2007, the United States exported nearly 9 billion pounds of used clothing and other worn textile products worldwide. This is a huge amount of products export. However, I was not surprise that amount of textile goods were exported. With the constant change in fashion and the seasons change, Americans do tend to shop more. For the Americans who can afford to keep up with the latest styles they buy and as they buy new products, they may give some away to consignments stores. Only a few Americans shop at second hand stores. It was good to know that some of the used clothing that is export go to African and Japan. It is not surprising that people that live in Africa have the same fashion sense as American. Base on pictures I have seen from my country (Liberia), the people are wearing American name brand and I updated with the newest fashion. It’s fascinating that the used clothing market is growing. Not only will recycle clothes help the less fortunate but it will help keep the environment clean.
    After reading and what we have learned it show how the Apparel and Textile industry connect countries. What every China does it may affect American or other countries in a positive or negative way. In addition, this industry relies heavily on consumers. Whatever purchase decision a consumer makes determines a manufacture decision what producing a product.

  44. Part IV of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” was by far my favorite part of the book. More specifically, the fact that by the time Americans decide to give away their clothing, the garment has only lived about half of it’s life is surprising to me. I had no idea there was a big business behind the used clothing industry. For example, The Stubin’s have been in this industry for the past 60 years and it seems as though they have perfected their business model. With the separate bins to divide clothing into categories such as for sale clothing, wiping rags, and fiber, and then divided even furthermore to pull out vintage clothing seems like a lot of work for used clothing, but then again I had no idea there was such a booming business in this sector of the industry. I was also interested to read about how well Ed Stubin knows his customers. His employees will find all clothing worth a sizable profit, including vintage clothing and “high end and quirky” clothing for his customers in Japan. Another part of section IV of the book I found interesting was the small entrepreneurs in Tanzania, and how specific the Tanzanian consumers are about what they want. They will select wrinkled musty clothing over neatly pressed clothing because wrinkled clothing came from America, yet “Tanzanians has no desire to look like Americans, they wanted to look like well-dressed Tanzanians” (page 237). When cleaning out my closet I have never thought that everything I am giving away has an entire life ahead of itself, so it was interesting to read in this section about where my clothing might end up.

    1. many students feel this is their favorite part, I think largely becuase you can feel the connection (part III is my favorite BTW, because I was a witness of the history). I hope the sustainability discussion this coming Tue will bring you more thoughts on the topic.

  45. The fourth part to Travels of A T-shirt was very eye opening. It was very shocking to learn that the textile recycling industry employs a great deal of people, both in the United States and in developing/undeveloped countries. It was also great to learn that not all recycled clothes are sent to Africa, as many people think. These recycled clothes are also sent to countries such as Tanzania.

    In Tanzania, clothing dealers only make a 10% profit off the bales of clothing that they purchase. These dealers make most of their profits off of “jewels,” or clothing items with prominent labels attached. It was pretty eye opening to learn that what we toss in the United States, could be fought over elsewhere. This really emphasizes the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

    After this reading, I was very surprised to learn how much Americans throw out. One excerpt from the reading stated “where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings, and can clothe another child or two.” This really stood out to me because with the fast fashion model especially, we feel that just because those clothes aren’t the newest items, that they aren’t wearable anymore. So we toss them after just a few wears. These clothes that aren’t suitable for us anymore could potentially create a fashionable wardrobe for someone else living in developing or undeveloped countries.

    However, it was very interesting to realize that our mass-disposal of clothing could create a business for those living in undeveloped countries. It ultimately allows them to engage in an entrepreneurial task. The idea that one has to spend money to make money is greatly presented in this situation. These clothing dealers purchase the bales of clothing then sell them to those living in their country. It gives these people a business mindset which can ultimately make them productive members of their society.

    Overall, this section of reading was very interesting and most definitely eye opening. It is very hard to grasp the thought of how wasteful American’s are and how happy our “old” clothes can make someone. I honestly never think of the textile and apparel recycling industry and how many people it employs. After this reading, I feel very informed about this sector of the industry.

  46. I found Part IV of the T-Shirt book to be the most interesting and I really enjoyed reading it. I believe that this part brought the whole book together. Between 1995 and 2007 about 9 billion pounds of used clothes and other textiles from the United States were exported to the rest of the world. When I read this I thought about a movie that I watched in TMD 222 where it showed that the clothes people donated in the United States were being exported to other countries. I never thought we were “throwing away” of clothes when we were donating. But in a way we are. ”The hunt for treasure does not stop with the clothing, but extends to the pockets, as Americans throw away not just perfectly good closing, but perfectly good money as well.” People in other countries are making an income off of the bales of clothing they are receiving for us. For example, clothing dealers in Tanzania make a 10 percent profit off of the clothing they purchase. These dealers make more profit when they receive clothes that have well-known labels the “jewels.”

    The book mentioned that soccer mothers in the United States gets rid of clothing that were last season and not in style anymore to make room for new clothes from the new season. Everyone gets rid of clothing at some point because we either grow out of it or we do not like it because it is not in style anymore. The United States wants fast fashion and having the newest and most stylist trends and the last thing we think about it being wasteful which we are compared to other countries.

    After reading this I became more aware what we, Americans, are wasteful when it comes to clothing and how we always want what is new and the latest trends. Now I know that the true meaning of “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” really means.

  47. This final section was definitely an eye-opener. After reading this chapter I really came to believe the saying “One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure.” I was both surprised and shocked when I found out America exported so much used clothing to other countries. I would have never imagined these clothes were going to other countries. When clothing is donated I imagined it would go to less fortunate people here in the U.S. or Goodwill stores.
    I was pleasantly surprised that “old” clothing is still being used instead of being thrown out. This also helps out with sustainability. This helps create less waste from clothing in our landfills.
    Our used clothing may not have any use for us… Most of us would call it “Trash”. But for poor people in other countries would definitely be grateful for these clothes and have a use for them.
    In a part in the book the author talks about Soccer Moms and how they throw away their clothing because it’s “old” and not trendy anymore. It definitely seems like a waste and shows that Americans are fickle. And this also shows that Americans are wasteful. We have fast changing fashion and cheap clothing that makes it convenient and easy to change wardrobes. These cheap and fast fashions make it less difficult for someone to throw an article of clothing away because of its price. People won’t throw something expensive away as easily.
    I am definitely going to donate my clothing the next time I clean out my closet. Usually I try not to throw anything away. I usually sell my clothing or give it away to my friends. But since I see that many of these clothes help people in other countries, I will try to donate more.
    This T-shirt book has been a very informative piece of literature and I actually liked it. It has taught the class many important things!

    1. good comment. But, as we mentioned in the class, the apparel industry is buyer-driven. if consumers shop less for clothing (because of sustainability), apparel companies will earn less and hire less… where comes the job for you guys? your thought?

  48. As this text comes to an end, we find ourselves learning the last segment of the traveling T-shirt: textile-recycling industry, which is most familiar to Americans as donating. I found it particularly interesting the story about the Stubin family and how there are nearly 3,000 more family-run firms that run their business around used clothing. It’s a risky business to get into since they are dealing with unsorted clothing by the truckload, really not knowing what they are buying. It is also difficult for small family-run businesses to compete with the large charities like Salvation Army and Goodwill. Those large charities are able to sort through the items that are still sellable, giving an unfair advantage to everyone looking for fair quality clothing after them. I was not aware of the large market used clothing has on American families today. Although, I was familiar with the dependency Africa has on clothing thrown away by Americans, which I found out that used clothing is one of America’s leading exports.

    The following chapter discusses how Geofrey Milonge finds the clothing and how he has become expert to finding clues to getting the best clothing to potentially sell. Getting to know whom he buys from is key and seeing an unbroken US-sorted bale meaning high-end luxury goods are inside.

    One of the most interesting statements Stubin made was he estimated that there are two to three times more women’s clothing than men’s. Besides women being more particular with the condition of their clothing, 90% of the clothes donated are in good condition. I can personally agree with this idea. If a sweater has a small hole in the sleeve, a dress goes out of style, or a pair of pants that become a little washed out, they can still be perfectly worn but women today would rather toss it then figuring a solution to fix the problem. It makes me feel upset how ungrateful we look when so many African people see the large amount of clothing coming in from America. I wonder what they think: how can Americans throw away so much of their good quality clothing when they spend so much money for it?

  49. Part 4 oft the T-shirt book was the most interesting for me because of how much it talked about us as people involved with the clothing. Reading about how many people think some clothes are garbage when others think there still perfectly fine made me not only realize that Americans like myself can be spoiled but there are also some people that have so much clothing and no need for most of it. We have everything at our fingertips most of the time and some people have no way to even get clothing. Once a month my parents as my brother and I to go through our clothing to donate to the poor and its crazy to me that the clothing I am just giving away because I dont want it anymore can soon become a staple in some one elses wardrobe. I also never realized how much of our used clothing was exported to other countires. Africa and Eastern Europe are some of the places that we export to. There are restrictions on our exports and rules that still need to be followed. While some of the used clothes stay to be sold here in the U.S., it would make sense that a majority get exported to other countries where the market for used clothes would be bigger. I think it’s interesting to read what used clothing is most popular. For example, chapter 14 talks about how blue jeans are “high end” items, and the more fashionable they are, the more money they’ll make. Sports and college shirts are also popular, and worth more money, which would be the same for new sports and college shirts in the U.S.

  50. I think the fourth part of the book was the most interesting because I’ve always wondered what really happens to the clothing that we throw away or donate. The quote, “Approximately half of the clothing arriving at Trans-Americas has another life to live as clothing. Where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings” is really intriguing. Much of the clothing we throw away today is either because we don’t like it anymore or it has become “out of style” but is still very usual. Even clothing we consider to be too dirty or over used is still wearable to others who cant afford anything. I remember watching the movie in 224 about the clothing that is shipped over to Tanzania. I thought it was so funny to see other little children in those countries wearing Nike shirts and apparel from sports teams that are no longer current. Not all the clothing is sent to just Africa. The warmest clothing is sent to Easter Europe and the vintage Levis are sent to Japan where there is quite a large market for vintage items. With the increase in throw aways from the U.S., consumers of Mitumba in Tanzania have become more selective with their fashions, and have made the jobs of the U.S. textile recycling industry more competitive. It just goes to show you that what we take for granted here can we something people treasure somewhere else.
    One other topic I found interesting was in chapter 15 where I learned that more than 30 countries effectively banned the import of clothing, either through outright probations or impenetrable bureaucratic walls. I’m slightly confused to why they would want to ban the help of reusable clothing to their countries where it is needed but then again it would drive the people of the country to buy within their country therefore keeping the money spent in their own economy instead of in someone else’s. However, I truly feel that if the country needs the clothing and people are too poor to buy new ones then this is something their government should be considering. It is important to help the people who need it the most.

  51. Part four of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy really brought the story full circle, with the t-shirts entering the free market and what happens after the t-shirt goes to the salvation army. I never really thought about what happens when a t-shirt is donated to the Salvation Army or other used clothing stores. I always though that it went to local families that shopped there, or college students that were looking for something “vintage” for parties or other events where they did not want to spend a lot of money. But I had never really thought about what else happens to those extra pieces of clothing. I never knew that the U.S. textile recycling industry consisted of thousands of small family businesses that were generations old. By the time the clothing reaches these small family businesses they have already been picked over by larger clothing donation companies like goodwill and the Salvation Army. I also never realized that young hip Japanese people loved vintage Nikes and Levis and that some items could go for thousands of dollars in Tokyo. Other clothing gets sent to Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and other poor parts of Europe, as well as Africa. Americans throw out or donate a large portion of their wardrobes, especially if you are wealthy you are more willing to throw things away, and then people who cannot afford new clothing or poor countries’ benefit from this, but by the time it gets to them it is usually picked over. It makes me feel guilty when I donate my clothing and then go out to buy new clothing to replace what I just donated. It is very true that Americans won’t usually wear things that are considered last seasons clothing style and will throw out or donate something that is still in good condition. It seems like a good idea that clothing being sent to other countries that cannot afford new clothing, however some people in those countries still cannot afford the cost of used clothing. I think that the price of used clothing needs to come down in order for those people to be able to afford something to wear after all we just threw it away and replaced it with new things. This book has really changed my perspective of what happens during the making and selling of a t-shirt and part four was by far my favorite part.

    1. great comment! Every coin has two sides. You feel guilty of shopping new clothing after donation, but you actually contribute to the GDP growth–think about it if we all stop purchasing, can retailers survive? how about those factories making apparel? so it is with sustainability. It may boom one sector but may result in the declining of another sector. That’s why you will see the traditional energy sector (oil, coal) is competing with the “green energy sector” (wind, solar) for policy support. And it is not a black and white world either.

  52. Part four of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy really concluded the book nicely. One part that I found interesting was the section about Tanzania and their clothing market. Many of the Tanzanian clothing dealers buy their clothing in big bulk and their profit is only 10% of those bales. However, in the U.S no business owner would ever be able to survive with only making a 10% profit. These dealers make most of their profits off of “jewels,” which are clothing items with labels attached to them.

    It was a big eye opener for me to learn how much we toss in the United States in excess. One part from the reading said “where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings, and can clothe another child or two.” This is basically saying that the wasteful amount of clothing that we throw away could be fought over in another country. This really explains the quote “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

    Another part of this part of the book that jumped out to me was the section speaking about what happens when a t-shirt gets donated to the Salvation Army or another used clothing store. I always used to put my clothing in a big bad and my mom would donate my clothing to the salvation army or Goodwill and I never even thought about where it was exactly going. I never knew that the U.S. textile recycling industry consisted of thousands of small family businesses that are generations and generations old. Finally, by the time the clothing actually reaches these small family businesses it has already been scavenged by larger clothing donation companies such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

  53. Part four of the T-shirt book was my favorite part. I think because, for me, this was the most relatable part of the book. Part four opens by discussing how readily middle- and upper-class citizens in the United States get rid of their clothing simply because they have grown tired of it. This clothing is often in like-new condition, yet consumers feel the need to cast it off in favor of new styles.
    Chapter 13, “Where T-Shirts Go after the Salvation Army Bin,” was no new concept to me. I remember watching a video on the subject when I took TMD 224 a few semesters ago. The subject fascinated me then and still does. I find it very interesting that our discarded clothing has a whole new life after it leaves our closets.
    One thing that did surprise me is that “Japan is usually the largest customer for American used clothing” (221). In the video we watched in TMD 224, the focus was only on third-world countries. It did not occur to me that our used clothing was being sold in a variety of different markets. I was also surprised to learn that “approximately 30 percent of the clothing entering the Trans-Americas factory is destined to become wiping rags” (225). To be honest, I have never given even a moment of thought to where wiping rags come from. However, now that I know this, it does make a lot of sense to reuse old T-shirts in this way.
    This entire book has taught me so much about things I never would have even thought to ask. It has pleasantly surprised me every step of the way. Though I was wary at first, I am glad that we were assigned to read this book.

  54. I really liked part IV of The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy because it really wrapped up the story and I had a really good feeling of what the whole book was trying to get across to us all semester. I also liked part IV because it was very easy to relate to as a middle class consumer. I liked how this part of the book explained a lot about the Salvation Army and the used clothing industry as a whole because it personally affects my life.
    I have always donated a lot of clothes and accessories to thrift shops and have also purchased clothing from thrift shops. I sometimes give a way a lot of clothing that I have never even worn before and it is extremely wasteful. But, what I found out in this book that was very interesting is that the used clothing industry has a large supply surplus and not a lot of demand. This issue has lead to the US exporting the extra clothing to other countries. It seems as though the United States can be really wasteful in that sense.
    To me personally, throwing away clothing doesn’t seem like a very bad thing to do when it is going to people who really need it and are living in poverty. In 2007, used clothing was America’s third largest export to a country called Tanzania. Many countries happily accept this clothing because they desperately need it. But, many countries also have bans on the import of used clothing. I thought that was very interesting because I have always thought that underdeveloped countries could really benefit from it. This really opened my eyes many issues to this particular section of the industry.

  55. In Part IV of travels of a T shirt, made me really think of wear all my donations end up. Most of the time when my family donates clothing I think of it going local to places in the United States.I tend to forget that it can end up around the world in developing countries.
    However, the women getting rid of Washington suburbs seem to be the biggest supporters of the recycled clothing industry. They waste so much clothing and buy in excess it seems a bit absurd. It was interesting that it is one of successful export industries in the US for over 30 years. I feel this industry is over looked but it is actually doing some good in our world and globally. IT for one supports the idea of green movement by reusing / resell old clothing that could be thrown out and in a land fill. Instead these pieces end up in poverty stricken countries like Africa clothing men, women, and children.
    In TMD 224 (culture, dress and appearance) we watched a movie showing where the recycled t shirts go in Africa. It had opened my eyes to how important recycling my clothing is and I have made sure I have since the video. This section of the book has just reminded me of the recycling effort and it actually is an industry in itself.

  56. The 4th part of the book was interesting in a different way because it shows what happens to the clothing after we get rid of it.
    It was interesting to read about the clothing in Tanzania, and how it is sold in bales. I remember watching a movie about this is TMD 224 but the book I felt went into greater detail with other countries aside from Africa.
    It was also interesting to see that the Japanese want our vintage clothing because I had always thought parts of Japan were either too poor to care, or the people with money wouldn’t want our used clothing.
    Also I thought it was really interesting that so much clothing gets sent to Europe. Prior to reading this book I knew that so much clothing gets shipped to Africa and Asia, but I never knew about Europe.
    I also think it is strange that the clothing we donate is sold in these poor countries. We donate clothing to benefit the poor and it just seems weird that it is sold and money is being made off of what is supposed to be charitable donations especially being that some people cant afford it.
    This all makes me think…its almost sad to see how wasteful Americans are with clothes. That really we get rid of perfectly good clothes that are still wearable just because they are out of style or not up to our standard. But at the same time if we did not do this, there would be no used clothing to send to these nations.
    Overall I think the t shirt book was very interesting and now what I expected. I expected it to be dry and boring, but it actually had interesting information that made me think differently from the way I previously had.

  57. Part IV was extremely intriguing and truly kept my interest. I never knew the amount and extent to which the US exported unwanted clothing to Africa. It shows how influential trends, fads and seasonal clothing are in the US compared to other countries who don’t view clothing as “trendy” but as something to simply cover up. Although the amount that is exported is vast, it is also necessary for many people’s survival. Having these garments available to them at such low prices is something they count on. With the increase in throw aways from the U.S., it has caused some consumers of Mitumba in Tanzania to become more selective with their fashions. This in return has made the jobs of the U.S. textile recycling industry more competitive. In addition, I was unaware that the clothing I have given away so often is first picked through by the major companies of Salvation Army and Goodwill before anyone else. They are continuously getting first choice in their selection leaving everyone after with their leftovers. Overall it has left me thinking more about what I give away or consider an old shirt to throw away. Knowing how many could benefit from my old clothes will motivate me to stop holding on to things I know I will not wear again so that others may benefit.

  58. After reading the chapter, “Where T-shirts go after the Salvation Army Bin” I was fascinated to learn about the recycled clothing business. It is a very under the radar industry, yet very successful. “America’s castoffs, however, have customers the world over, and clothing thrown away by Americans forms the backbone of a dynamic global industry” (216). It amazes me that disposed clothing could be the basis of a major sector. In fact, despite the US’ trade deficits over the years, recycled clothing has been a strong export and very dependable. This just goes to show you how varied and unpredictable the business of fashion can be which never fails to amaze me. I found it very interesting to read that the recycled clothing industry is “a race that leaves little time for politics” (218) and solely focuses on economics. While reading about the Stubin family’s business, the Trans-Americas Trading Company, I was impressed with their success and longevity in the industry. They really have a grasp on the industry and economy as a whole and have a full understanding on how to conduct business. I was especially interested in reading about how “a skilled grader can decide a T-shirt’s fate in approximately one second” (221) to determine if it is worth keeping or should be scrapped to the rag pile. These graders have to keep so many factors and qualities of clothing in mind when sorting through thousands of pieces and the fact that they can do this in a split second is very impressive.
    I found it very depressing to read about Tanzania in the beginning section of the chapter, “How Small Entrepreneurs Clothe East Africa with Old American T-shirts” because they have made the effort to strengthen their county with leaders such Julius Nyerere, but cannot seem to pull themselves out of poverty. “But like many of her African neighbors, Tanzania found that the socialist road led to dead end after dead end with factories that didn’t produce, workers who didn’t work, and farmers who didn’t farm” (228). It seems like anything they try to do, they will never make a difference because they don’t have the resources or belief to do so. This is the reason why I believe that the recycled clothing industry is a brilliant idea because it benefits those in other countries who cannot afford nor have access to a variety of clothing. “Though it would take an average Tanzanian perhaps 60 years to earn enough to buy the Lexus SUV in the Bethesda parking lot, thanks to a nimble network of global entrepreneurs, Tanzanians can dress well for very little money” (229). This is one of the greatest effects of globalization: countries helping countries fills the gaps in each other’s markets.
    I really don’t understand the reasoning of those against the used clothing industry. They claim that it is taking away textile and apparel factory jobs, while in fact this industry has helped create jobs. “There is little evidence, however, that the African textile industries – at least in many countries – would be flourishing but for mitumba…Though empirical estimates of the job destruction/creation patterns are impossible to come by, Gulam Dewji is convinced that the mitumba trade has created many more jobs than it has destroyed” (240). There is a lot more evidence that shows the success and positive benefits that result from the recycled clothing industry in which critics cannot ignore. I strongly believe that all businesses should look up to the Stubin’s business philosophies and practices because he has a strong, realistic outlook on running his company. “Stubin understands markets, and he respects them. He also understands that even though he is one of the industry’s bigger players, he is actually very small” (252).
    This book has been a major eye-opener to me about the industry as a whole. I have learned a lot that I would never even consider when thinking about the production of a T-shirt which will be invaluable to me as I continue to learn about the field. I commend and thank Pietra Rivoli for sharing her first-hand experience tracing and tracking the route of the t-shirt, for it has been an enjoyable and intriguing read for me.

  59. In chapter 13 I was fascinated to see how Rivoli chose to focus on one family in particular, the Stubins. This seemed to be reminiscent of how he did this in the earlier chapters. I was interesting to see how he explained textile and apparel recycling industry through them. Rivoli did this in the earlier chapters also explaining how a family business works within the textile and apparel industry. I was unaware of how competitive the recycling industry was. However, when I thought it over it made sense how the retailers must get the most amount and highest quality of clothing to outsell their competitors. I found it interesting how they pinpointed “vintage” clothing. Rivoli acknowledges how it is worth more than the rest but when it comes down to it, it is difficult to determine what is worn clothing and what is “vintage.”

    In chapter 14, I found it interesting how Rivoli made the comparison of dress between the United States and the residents of Tanzania. We often take for granted what we clothe ourselves in and disregard the poor living conditions of those similar to Tanzania. Our used apparel that we choose to throw away carelessly is treasured and valued in places where they are impoverished. I found it interesting in Geofrey Milonge’s t-shirt stand that US team t-shirts are placed at a higher value. These team names mean nothing to these impoverished residents however they still know that they have value and importance to them. I also found the comparison of Geofrey looking for sellable apparel in Tanzania to that of the Stubin family in New Jersey. It put the industry in perspective.

    In chapter 15 the explanation of mitumba was enlightening. I was unaware prior to reading the book. I was a little disappointed to read how Americans were partially blamed for East Africa’s economic distress. It was mentioned how if Americans were more knowledgeable about throwing their apparel away then there would not be as much of an issue. I do agree that Americans should me more aware of this crisis however they should not be held fully liable.

  60. I found part IV of the T-shirt book to be very interesting. I never though about the Salvation Army and how America’s recycled and castoff clothes supply for millions around the world. I always knew that old, unwanted clothes are brought in and given to people whom need/want them, but I wasn’t aware of the process that each article of clothing goes through. I also wasn’t aware that the United States has been the world’s largest exporter of used clothing. I was intrigued to read chapter 13 because it brought me behind the scenes of the U.S textile recycling industry and helped me understand through Ed Stubins’ life. It was also fascinating to read that clothes go all over Europe, North America, and Japan. I enjoyed reading about Tanzania and Geofrey in chapter 14 and 15. It is incredible to think about how our old clothes are considered “high-end” in poorer areas. And how

    After reading this section, I got a better understanding of the final areas that old garments can end up. It really opened my eyes to the materialistic ways that American’s live. We are constantly looking for new designs and new wardrobes when people around the world are grateful just having clothes on their backs. This book was more captivating and educational then I had expected. Rivoli takes us through the steps of how a T-shirt is manufactured, distributed, and where it ends up after being purchased and worn. It also discusses the inclining growth of China’s Textile and Apparel Industry and how it can oppose a threat to other competitors around the world. I have learned a lot from following the journey of a T-shirt and believe that it has put a lot of things that I never thought about in perspective.

  61. The last section of “Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy,” was my personal favorite section. Rivoli discusses what happens to a T-Shirt in America after it has been worn and is donated and becomes ‘used.’ Chapter thirteen was very interesting because it discussed an aspect of the textile and apparel industry that I think is often overlooked which is the textile recycling industry. I remember in TMD 224 Dr. Gagnon showed a documentary of what happens to used clothing once Americans donate them to organizations like Salvation Army. The used clothing organizations export the donated clothing to developing countries like Africa to be resold. . I was shocked to find that the US has been the world’s largest exporter of used clothing, because to be honest I never knew that exporting used clothing was even an industry. Chapter thirteen explains how this industry works and what items are more valued in some countries than others.
    Chapter fourteen explained how certain American clothing is more prized in some countries than others. When most people donate their old clothing to a charitable organization they think that their contribution would be benefiting other Americans that are in need however chances are it will be exported to countries like Africa. This part of the textile and apparel industry seems to be more secluded than the others. The final chapter of the book discusses how this part of the industry is not on a global scale since it is not welcomed in all countries. The reason being it will hurt the domestic apparel industry within the country that the donated clothing would be exported to. Having a large amount of exported pre-made apparel that is being sold for a very low price makes it challenging for the domestic apparel industry to compete and stay alive, especially when there is a high demand for the US t-shirts. This section taught me a lot and was very interesting.

  62. In reading Chapter 13 in Part IV of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy”, I found it very interesting that the high wages that caused the demise of the U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers led to a new comparative advantage for the U.S. It baffles me that Americans have gotten so rich that the supply of secondhand t-shirts outweighs the demand for them. I am constantly hearing that there are so many homeless and needy families within the U.S., but according to Rivoli, there are nowhere near enough poor people in America to consume the amount of castoff clothing even if they were given away. It really makes me think about the actual condition of our economy.

    In Chapter 14, I was interested to know that Tanzania is America’s third-largest export of used clothing. When I think about all the countries in the world that the U.S. could export old clothing to, Tanzania isn’t really the first country to come to mind. I also found it strange that only the men are seen wearing what they call “mitumba”. The women are the ones adorned in the brilliantly colored native cloth, which makes them look stronger and prouder than the men, who look like they are just a part of the background scenery. Typically in developing countries, the men are supposed to be portrayed as the strong ones and the women are supposed to fade into the background.

    Finally in Chapter 15, I was fascinated how much the U.S. has in common with developing countries in Africa when it comes to imports. Trying to ban mitumba imports is similar to the U.S. trying to limit or ban apparel imports. Both means would just lead people to find ways around the barriers rather than trying to work with them. Denying mitumba to people who have already had access to this cheap and fashionable clothing is the same as denying Americans fast fashion after they have already had access to them. Regardless of the country, developed or developing, banning a trade will always just drive it underground to illegal markets.

  63. The last part of “Travels of a T-Shirt” was extremely interesting to read and gave great insight into a different aspect of the textile and apparel industry that some people may not have originally been aware of. When analyzing the textile recycling industry, it really put things into perspective and made me realize how much Americans waste. I too, am guilty of cleaning out my closet every season and getting rid of clothing that is perfectly fine, but happened to go out of style. After donating my clothes to GoodWill or the Salvation Army, I never really pondered where that clothing ended up. I just assumed that it was being donated or sold at a low cost to a family in need. It never even crossed my mind that it could end up all the way in Africa or Tanzania. Reading about how much clothing is thrown away every year by Americans made me feel guilty and think about how we as Americans, sometimes take things for granted. However, Rivoli manages to shed light on the positive side of the recycling industry and explain the benefits that correspond with the industry. It is good to know that the textile recycling industry provides employment for numerous people and also provides clothing to those less fortunate in places such as Africa and Eastern Europe.
    Not only does the recycled clothing industry provide employment opportunities for numerous people, but it provides an opportunity for people to engage in entrepreneurship and collaborate with other people selling recycled clothing. This allows us to see just how extensive the exporting of used clothing is, and how other countries benefit from it. After completing the book, I can honestly say that I am satisfied with how it ended. I was able to learn a great deal about the textile and apparel industry from this book, and apply things in the book to things we have discussed in class. The author did a great job of taking the reader through the journey of a T-shirt and elaborated on the most important aspects of the industry. While this book increased my knowledge on globalization and issues that arise within the industry, it also has me thinking of what is to come in the future.

  64. Part IV of “Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” wraps up the whole book. The recycling of clothing is very thought provoking topic. I always thought when I dropped off clothing in the donation bins it went to people in need in the United States. But it goes to numerous people, in need, all over the world as well. The used clothing industry is a business in itself. People’s lives depend on used clothing to make money to live.

    In seminar we learned that Americans unlike any other country buy an average of 77 pieces per year. This is an insane amount of clothing and it is extremely wasteful. Even countries in Europe who are first world countries like us have very few pieces of clothing. Most of their clothing is very expensive and well made, lasting a long time. Therefore not having a lot of waste. I realized this when I studied abroad, I would see my teachers in the same fashionable outfits every week. This was a shock to me at first but then I appreciated the practicality of it. Now after reading this section of the book I have a new outlook on fast fashion and the amount of waste our society produces.

    I thought it was also very interesting and almost rude that some countries ban used clothing. I don’t think any country should ban something that helps their citizens that are in need. It was additionally interesting when they talked about the “popular” used clothing items such as jeans. Who knew our “trash” would be so valuable other places. I also thought it was interesting that Bill Clinton was the president that was the most pro free trade.

    Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. It brought a lot of aspects of the global textile and apparel industry into light and made me understand the back-story, present and future of clothing.

    1. I connected this part of the T-shirt book to Dr. Karl Aspelund’s lecture about sustainability and the U.S. carbon footprint. This comment mentioned how when people in the U.S. bring old clothing, that they think they are donating, to drop off bins that they go in bundles to other countries rather than staying domestically.

  65. As I began reading the final portion of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” I was immediately reminded of how my father was so astonished from an image of children from a 3rd world country on the national news. One child was wearing a t-shirt that said “Newport Rhode Island” on it (our hometown). He could not believe that somehow a shirt that was most likely originally sold in our hometown casually traveled all the way across the world. As I continued reading the final chapters, I was repeatedly reminded of the child wearing that shirt and connected it to the reading. This concluding section was eye opening to read as it expanded my knowledge of what potentially happens to a garment after it is donated or as some would say ‘disposed’. It is remarkable to imagine shirts that I have worn years ago being shipped around or out of the country for many different uses.

    “Rich Americans- or even middle-class Americans—excel at throwing things away, and the richer we become, the bigger mounds of cast-off clothing swell.” (216) The fourth portion of ‘The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” concludes the t-shirt’s adventure through the entire textile complex back into the free market. Rivoli used chapters 13, 14 and 15 as reminder that there is still life in a t-shirt, even after ‘disposal’. These used cotton products can be the reason a homeless child is warm at night, or if un-wearable, can be recycled into wiping rags. From possibly originating as a cotton fiber at Nelson and Ruth Reinsch’s farm in Smyer, Texas, being transported to Long Beach, California, where it continues its journey across the Pacific Ocean to the Shanghai ports to be composed into a garment, to being shipped back in to the United States to potentially be transported back across seas, it is safe to say the average t-shirt has quite the adventure. Personally, it is flabbergasting to accept that an $8 item has traveled to more countries that an average person will ever visit. I was satisfied with Rivoli’s final concluding chapter as it touched base on current issues and events that may affect the travels of a t-shirt. The final section of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” was a phenomenal approach to conclude the story as it reminds readers that the garment’s journey continues, even after the last time you wear it.

  66. When reading section IV I was amazed to see all the poor countries our clothes end up in. When we first started reading the book the T shirt started off in the US was exported then imported then exported again. I never realized how extensive clothing’s lives are before this book. I never knew that our clothes that we don’t want and give away end up in a whole new market. I was moved by the fact that our dresses and suits are considered “jewels.” We take our clothes for granted. We are fortunate enough to be able to afford expensive clothing that was made by cheap wages. When we dispose of our clothing, its value changes once again. “Where rich Americans see garbage, much of the rest of the world sees perfectly fine clothing that can be worn to work or even to weddings.”

    I also found it interesting how they addressed African customers as not liking “in-your-face logos.” Each culture has their own sense of style which is evident here.

    I also found it shocking how 30% of clothing entering the Trans-Americas factory is designed to become wiping rags. We spend so much money on clothing, just for them to end up as rags. Crazy!!

    It also talked about how high-wage workers of America out beat the low-wage workers of China because Americans are just willing to give away their unwanted clothes for free. So low-wage workers in the U.S. don’t always out beat Americans.

    Another topic I enjoyed reading about was employment. It talked about how mitumba may destroy some jobs its also creates others. This reminds me of our first assignment on Apple and globalization. Even though jobs are taken away, these new opportunities and ways of doing things create other jobs. It talked about traders, importers, sorters, and launderers.So many jobs are created.

    It also talked about how expensive the process of exporting and importing is, if America could create a trade agreement with these countries like they have done with many other countries, then both markets could prosper.

  67. In the beginning of chapter 13 I was immediately intrigued to learn about individuals in the United States disposing clothes to make room in their closet for new items. I found this interesting because it is an act I am personally involved in. At least twice a year my mother and I will do a thorough cleaning of our closets and we will donate the unwanted items of clothing to Good Will. It was eye opening to see such a large surplus of unwanted T-Shirts there are in the United States and amongst all of the lower class people that reside in America there are still not enough people to take the clothing that is being given away. I assumed the clothing my family disposed would be distributed in Good Will or similar stores around the United States when in fact the majority of these items end up being sold overseas. I had no idea that used clothing was a business in itself in other countries and there is such a large market for these items such as blue jeans being “high end items” and sports t-shirts being very popular as well. It was shocking to learn how they have created such a large market overseas from the used clothing I, among others, personally have donated or gotten rid of.

    Overall, this book really opened my eyes to what is going on in the world around me and how important it is for me and other consumers to think about purchases we make and how it is affecting others worldwide. It was interesting to learn the lifecycle of a t-shirts, particularly how and where cotton is created and where the end product of a t-shirt is distributed. This book gave me a very in-depth look into the textile and apparel industry and the problems surrounding it.

  68. When i started reading the last section of the book, it was talking about how people in the US give their clothes away that no longer fit them to the less fortunate. This grabbed my attention because for as long as i can remember i’ve been bagging up all of my old clothes that do not fit me and giving them to good will. I never understood with all of the extra clothing we have here in America, which some is barely touched, and we still have other countries struggling for clothes. If everyone in america donated at least one bag full of clothes to donations or good will, i dont see how that couldn’t benefit the less fortunate. However, what i learned in this section is that all the clothes me and my family bag up and send thinking its going to good will, is actually going overseas in the hands of other companies, which they then use to sell and make their own profit. I thought i was helping out people that couldn’t afford to buy there own clothes when infact i was just giving other companies free clothes to make money of off. Yes the clothes are still used and probably sold at cheaper prices, but the whole point is to give this clothing for free to people that cant afford it. we dont need more discounted used clothing stores when people have closest full of clothing and dont where half of it. In today’s economy everyone is trying to make a profit of off anything, but there are still people out there that have nothing to even profit and it would be a nice thing for someone to someone a free bag of clothes just because they need it.

  69. I think it is safe to say that Part IV of the T-Shirt Travels book was my favorite, mainly because I learned a lot about a different culture. First of all, I never even thought about the U.S. used clothing market and how we export a ton of used clothes to other countries. I particularly found it interesting when the author mentioned the supply and demand differences between men’s clothing and women’s clothing on page 230. Understandably, American women change their clothing style and go through different clothes more often than men, which is why their used clothing is frequently available in African markets. What I found most interesting is that “…African women’s clothing preferences exclude much of Western fashion while men clamor for the limited supply of t-shirts, khakis, and suits that are in good condition” and that due to the lack of supply for the African men’s demand, the cost of used men’s clothing is more expensive than women’s. It makes perfect sense, yet is unfortunate for those customers, especially when most of the country is poor. I also found it interesting when the author mentioned that some people may want to stop donating their clothes to Salvation Army if they knew that instead of allowing the Africans to have the clothes for free, mitumba workers would sell the clothing and make a profit. I like how the author explains the difficulties of “suppressing mitumba trade” and how the trade actually benefits Africa’s economy in some ways because it provides jobs for a lot of people. In the end, the author mentions the possibility of exporting used goods to China. It will be interesting to see if this happens soon…

    I enjoyed learning about the global textile and apparel market in this book. It was interesting to read about some of the “winners” and “losers” in globalization like we talked about in class. I liked that Rivoli ended this book on an optimistic note. He said “To watch the dizzying innovations of the last few years, I can only believe that tomorrow’s tshirt will have a better story still. The future isn’t perfect, but its brighter than it used to be.”

  70. After reading the fourth part of the t-shirt book I have a new understanding for how and where donated clothes from the US go. It is unfortunate that many American’s good intentions are actually very harmful to textile industries in other countries. If we did not donate such large amount of clothing Zambia and other countries like it they would still have a apparel industry. The middle men of this donated clothing industry are making large profits from this and I feel that they are taking advantage of those less fortunate. The trade of second hand clothing has tried to be suppressed but somehow is not effective. People find ways around the trade barriers and this clothing is still sold instead of donated to people who truly need it. It is upsetting to know that people can have a clear conscious knowing that they are selling clothes that people thought they were donating to the less fortunate and making a profit from it. Although the people doing this will always find away around the rules in order to stay in business I hope in the future it will be possible to have stricter regulations and tracking of clothing donation in order to limit these problems.

    1. I agree with the statement about how it is upsetting for people here to think they are donating clothes to those in the U.S who need it, while instead those in other countries can sell the clothing we “donate” for a profit. Perhaps there could be a better system in place here to let individuals know where their donated contributions are going.

  71. Part IV is one of my favorite sections of the t-shirt book. I am one of those consumers who donate their clothes at our local Salvation Army or charities. I am sure many of my peers do the same thing. We would buy clothes thinking that we will wear it many times before we replace it, but I know that is not true. Some of the clothes, which I have donated, have only been worn a few times. It is either I forgot I have such a shirt and by the time I found it again I no longer like the style, or it does not fit me, that is when I donate it. I thought the clothes I donated to Big Sisters will end up in those people’s hands that truly needs it. However, I never notice it could be ended up in Africa and other poor countries.
    I am happy to know the clothes I’ve donated continue its life and serve its purpose in another country because that was why I donated it in the first place. But what I didn’t know was that the middlemen would resell the clothes to poor countries. Another thing that surprises me is that, “the United States has experienced an unbroken string of merchandise trade deficit for more than 30 years, recycled clothing has been a consistently successful export industry” (Rivoli 216). What this means is that even though the U.S. is in a trade deficit, Americans are still consuming at the same level. “Between 1995 and 2007, the United States exported nearly nine billion pounds of used clothing and other worn textile products to the rest of the world” (Rivoli 216). The book mentioned Japan is usually the largest consumer for high-end items. I was extremely shocked to know a developed country such as Japan would purchase used clothing. During my visit in Japan, I notice all the schoolgirls would be in skirts in the middle of winter. It turns out denim and pants are very expensive in Japan; therefore, girls would be in skirts even in the cold winter.
    In the mitumba (clothing thrown away by Americans and Europeans) market, the concept of new and used is different in American and Africa. Rivoli mentioned in the t-shirt book anthropologist Karen Hansen noticed consumers from the world of mitumba look for wrinkled and musty smelling clothing that they see as “new” while they see clean-smelling and fresh-pressed as “old” (Ricoli 231-232). I think one reason is that, for the older or worn clothing, seller would try to make it look better so they could sell it to consumers. Maybe this is how why people buying mitumba rather look for something that is wrinkled and smells weird.
    I was not surprised to hear that, “survival depends on their skills in spotting the jewels among the snowflakes…depend on personal relationships with suppliers and personal knowledge about their customers” (Rivoli 236) Whether a retailer is selling apparels in a developed country or poor country, maintaining a good relationship with your customers and vendors are very important. In addition, “the relationship were needed to keep unhappy surprised in the bales” (Rivoli 238). Prior to reading part four of the t-shirt book, I thought the clothing that were donated were going directly into the hands of those we needs them. Since the clothing are donated, I did not think the recipients would mind how the apparel looks as long as it protects them from environmental factors. But I was wrong, even poor people would be picky and cares about what they wear is fashionable or not.
    Towards the end of the book, the author mentioned that some critics pointed out that the mitumba market causes employment in the textile market to decrease (Rivoli 240). Since textile manufacturing can helps poor countries to set foot into the development stage, but critics see mitumba as a threat to the African market. Although mitumba bring disadvantages to the African market, but mitumba also created new jobs. According to Gulam Dewji, “Mitumba trade show an astonishing variety of skills, and the tailors…dresses, socks into bathmats, and skirts into tablecloths and tablecloths into skirts…mitumba trade has created many more jobs than it has destroyed” (Rivoli 240). The challenges the African industry faces is “unreliable and expensive infrastructure; the cost and availability of materials…inadequate training and management skills” (Rivoli 241). There are thoughts about banning the mitumba in the African market but Rivoli believe it will only make the consumers want it more by doing it illegally. This is the nature of the textile and apparel industry. There will always be a winner and loser, but you neither win nor lose completely.

  72. The last section of the reading really brought the entire book and story to a full circle. I enjoyed this reading, but was also very shocked by it. Whenever I am cleaning out my wardrobe and getting rid of old clothes I always give them to my grandma who donates them to multiple different Good Will stores and Churches. I never thought about my clothings afterlife after I donate them. It is crazy to know where this clothing really goes and that the clothing I give away has two or three more lives ahead of it.

    Between 1990 and 2003 the United States exported nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothing to the rest of the world. This is extremely disturbing. Americans throw away clothing like it’s nothing and don’t think about how wasteful it is. Although Americans don’t appreciate the clothing, it is good to know that other countries do. Of course everyone wants new clothes but countries, like Africa for example, are more than happy to take and use Americas leftovers. After reading these chapters I will definitely continue to donate my clothing to Good Will and encourage those around me to do the same. There is absolutely no reason to throw clothing in the trash. It is inexcusable.

    A theme of American culture was prevalent in this reading. American culture is very different from other cultures, especially in regards to consumption and fashion. Americans are constantly getting rid of old clothes to get new. Americans are moved by fast fashion and unfortunately, apparel goes in and out of style very quickly. Most Americans want to stay fashionable and up to date with their clothing. I can’t see this changing any time soon, but as long as we are compulsively replacing old clothes with new I think the least we could do is to donate the clothing rather than throwing it away. Maybe we should start purchasing more timeless clothing that won’t become obsolete so quickly.

    Before this reading, I never realized the supply and demand differences between men’s clothing and women’s clothing. Another part of the American fashion culture is that American women change their clothing style more frequently and therefore go through more clothes than men do. Although there is a surplus of leftover womans clothing, this makes the demand for mens clothing higher.

    Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this book because it provoked my mind and made me question a lot of topics about this industry. This reading forced me to think about things that I probably would’ve never thought about before!

  73. I was surprised when I read about how many people give their perfectly fine clothing away to the salvation army. I was unaware that many people use the salvation army for the purpose of getting rid of there old clothing so they can make room for buying new items. It was also shocking to read that the supply out strips the domestic demand. It shows that most people just wear their clothing based on trends without the means of holding onto it for a long time. Another thing that I wasn’t aware of was about the “second world” of clothing. we take our clothing for granite and never stop to think about how people in other countries can’t afford any clothing or wear used clothing from the U.S. It’s shocking that we supply the used clothing for the African customer. I never thought that the old t-shirt I once owned would end up on someone else’s back. It’s crazy to think that the old clothing we once wore help supply another country. If I knew for sure if most of the clothing I donated to the salvation army would end up in countries that needed clothing, then I would definitely donate more of mine. “In 2008, the selling price of a used t-shirt in good condition was about 80 cents per pound.” I find this shocking to believe because who would think someone would pay for the clothing someone else once wore. Besides becoming new clothing for people in other countries our clothing is also turned into rags, if they cannot be used. ” About 30% of the clothing entering the trans-Americas factory is destines to become wiping rags. I found that this part of the book was the most fascinating and it makes me rethink about everything that I buy now and where it goes when I decide I am done with it.

  74. Part IV of the Tshirt book was very enjoyable to read. It definitely tied all of the parts of the book together and the content was easy to understand. “The richer we become, the bigger the mounds of cast-off clothing swell.” I can’t help but admit how true this statement holds. It is a huge problem in the United States because we consume and dispose of clothing on a daily basis. After reading part IV I realized there is a huge market for the cast off clothing that is disposed of or given away. The clothing thrown away by Americans form the backbone of a dynamic global industry. In a 12 year span from 1995 to 2007 the U.S. exported nine billion pounds of used clothing and other textile products. The U.S. is the worlds largest exporter of used clothing. Not many people think about the path the Tshirt, they throw away, takes. Not many people think about the industry they are contributing to in Africa, Japan, Tanzania, etc. after reading Part IV I am so much more aware of U.S. consumption. I hope to apply what I’ve learned to my own lifestyle. I would recommend that future classes read this book because it is important to be aware of what the textile/ apparel cycle is like. (The path a T-Shirt takes)

  75. “The Travels of a Tshirt in the Global Economy” part 4 brought Rivoli’s message full circle. He talked about how his Tshirt finally reaches a free market allowing us to see it’s entire lifecycle. Rivoli expressed the benefits that the recycled clothing industry brings to underdeveloped as well as developing countries. In addition, the recycled clothing industry has become its own division of the US textile/apparel sector by creating jobs for US workers and creates entrepreneurship opportunities for people selling these clothes in other countries. Along with seeing the benefits of recyclable clothing, it is concerning to think about the amount of clothing that Americans throw away every year. I was extremely hypocritical when I read about the wealthy soccer moms who throw away huge bags of clothing and go shopping later in the day to buy new ones. I was extremely appalled to read this however I know that I commit this act at the end of season. It’s hard to see that I actually could be contributing to the back up of waste in the apparel/textile sector. Due to the trend “fast fashion” becoming increasing popular, apparel goes out of style very quickly and we feel the need to replace our clothes in order to keep up with the “new” trends.

  76. Chapter 13’s title struck me, “where t-shirts go after the salvation army bin”, I never quite have thought where our clothing goes. They bring up an interesting point, most of the people dropping off their clothing are only making more room for the new items that will make their way into the closet and take up space to only force some more old clothing out. This point alone shows how excessive we are with spending money on clothing and not making due with the clothing we already have. I once saw a film that depicted where our shipped off salvation army drop off of clothing ends up, because there is so much excess, there is no need to only have it resold in the salvation army stores. Therefor, it is distributed to under developed countries. The men and women spend a great deal of their time to get to where the drop off is and then they pick out items and make the long treck back in order to sell it at flea markets. That is how you see people from other countries wearing our D.A.R.E. t-shirts. It really puts in perspective our spending habbits here in America. Where a faded black t-shirt may be over worn and out dated may be visualized as a perfect, comfortable, updated shirt that may clothe some of the family in another country. We view these excess and outdated clothing as garbage and we think that those garments have met their max potential, but what it comes down to is that clothing is supposed to create modisty, and protection for our skin. We forget that is the main point of clothing. What makes it even worse is that we are in a generation that is towards fast fashion, clothes that go out of style before it even hits the shelves and doesn’t last past two washings. Ultimately becoming a “waste” in our eyes. We need to get back down to reality to make some crucial decisions in which to create clothing as classics that will last through many years. Clothing that is durable and will last many many washes so you can have it much longer than you would expect.

  77. Chapter thirteen starts with the topic of the used clothing businesses and how they give away much of its clothing to other countries. Between 1995 and 2007, the US exported nearly nine billion pounds of used clothing and other worn textile products to the rest of the world. The US has been the worlds largest exporter of used clothing during most of the past decade, which are exported to other countries to be sold in markets. The US recycling industry consists of many small family businesses that have been passing this one for multiple generations. In 2004, used clothing businesses in America could buy unsorted truckloads of clothing for about five to seven centers per pound. In only four years, 2008 recorded that number doubling because of the increasing number of buyers and at the same time decreasing the price of new t-shirts in China by half. Once the stores that receive these shipments sort through the garments, they are shipped to countries such as Japan or France depending on how valuable the piece is.
    The book continues to chapter fourteen on the same topic and bringing to the issue of since American women buy more clothes than men and take better care of their clothes then men buying woman’s clothes is much cheaper than men’s clothes. Even though they life in Africa for example, people there have the same fashion sense as we do in America. More money will be made on more fashionable styles, which explains why the clothes are sorted so precisely and strategically given to particular countries. Buying methods are much different in the used clothing world however and is yet another factor to be put into account when buying and shipping these goods. Researchers found consumers seek out “new” clothing that is wrinkled and musty smelling. A pressed or clean garment cannot possibly have spent time in a compressed baled in a warehouse or container to be shipped therefore it is more winkled and musty clothing is likely to be the “newest” from America which are the prized articles sought after by citizens of Africa that are being sold that particular shipment.
    Chapter fifteen closes the book with explaining the issue of how not all countries allow imports of used clothing. More than thirty countries ban the imports through prohibitions or numerous bureaucratic walls. Just like how our country is currently feeling the harsh effects that movement to overseas sourcing has had on our job market. With this in mind, why would we or they want to suffer the same fate that we are in the process of trying to rebuild. Industries were created by the countries receiving these shipments such as traders, importers, sorters, launderers, and tailors. We as a globe need to make a larger effort in truly considering all parties involved in our choices and the effects our decisions can have not just at that moment but in the future. If we were to just donate US clothing and make it free, it would remove tons of jobs in Africa. People have very misconstrued and naïve perceptions of under privileged countries and their attitudes toward the second hand clothing that is sent to them. Many Africans for example actually thrive at the challenge of shrewd shopping and enjoy the reward of their finds.

  78. After reading the last section of the book: “The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy”, it really opened my eyes about certain things that I did not know before. I feel that this book is extremely beneficial for people of all ages that are interested in the textile industry. After reading some of the chapter I noticed that I myself donate my clothing to Good will and the Salvation Army. I never knew that people divide up the clothing and decide which sections they belong to and then send it off. Certain buyers and traders want a specific type of clothing. I honestly did not think my clothing went through a whole process I thought it was just shipped off. After reading this chapter I realized what happens to clothing after you donate it and it was extremely interesting to read about.

    Another interesting quote that I read throughout the chapter was when the author stated: “But most of the clothing whizzling by on a Trans-Americas’ conveyor belts headed to Africa, on a journey from the richest to the poorest place on earth. For many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, used clothing represents one of Americas leading exports and for several it is often America’s largest exports. Pg 223” It is great to hear how when America donates clothing it donates to areas around the world that truly appreciate it and need the clothing. It was interesting to see how each representative from each country knew exactly what each customer wanted. For example, the author states: “African customers do not like the in-your-face-logos or suggestive messages. Pg 225” This goes to show that the process is organized and clothes are being put to good use. This really opened my eyes while reading.

    The last part of the book was extremely eye opening and I learned many new things that I did not know before. This book made me look at things in the textile market in a different perspective. If I did not read this book I would honestly not know half of the things I do now. A lot goes on in the textile market that a person would not know right away. This book as educated me to become more aware of my surroundings and I now think about clothing before buying it and think about how it got to where it is now. I also think about how it was created and where it came from. These things I would not know before reading this book.

  79. I found part 4 of the t-shirt book to be the most interesting since it covered a lot of things I knew nothing about. First being that used clothing was such a big industry in other countries. The little information I had on this topic was from the video we watched in TMD224 about how people in Africa buy bundles of used clothing from the U.S only to resell it for a profit of their own. It was surprising to know just how big the industry is. I’ve donated clothes to Goodwill, but you never think about where it goes after that, and the t-shirt book gives you a new insight on that. After the lecture in class today on sustainability, the export of used clothing from the U.S. can been considered recycled. Even though the Africans are making a profit, I never realized that some countries see this as a bad thing. Rivoli stated, “More than thirty countries ban imports through prohibitions or numerous bureaucratic walls,” which is understandable in trying to save the local textile industry. This concept of used clothing gives another meaning to the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It was interesting to know that our “old” clothing was being used across the world in a new business. This part also made you think about the need of clothing. The apparel industry in the U.S. is so consumer driven that fashion is constantly changing based on our needs, but the needs of those in Africa are completely different. They see the clothing as a necessity to live while we see much of what is in our closet as wants for style. It doesn’t matter if it is last season’s trends; their most important need is protection. In the end, it was eye opening that what we think is garbage, others are willing to pay money for. I had no idea that used clothing export was the third largest to Tanzania. Overall, I enjoyed the travels of a t-shirt. It gave me new insight into the textile and apparel industry that I would have never known.

  80. Chapter 13, slightly referenced the beginning of the book with the introduction to the Textile and Apparel sector through the eyes of the Rivoli family. Although, this time we were looking at the Stubin and the recycling industry. It was interesting to see how the recycling system is put into play and how competitive it is amongst other countries. He also went into great detail about the definition of “vintage” and how it is often hard to determine what is vintage and what is an old worn piece of clothing.
    Like the determination of vintage clothing, Rivoli also made the aspect of clothing in impoverished countries very interesting. He noted that in countries like Tanzania, the poor people are often very excited to have the opportunity to wear clothing from people in other countries especially America. They hold trivial items that we would view as something of less monetary value to a higher standard. They feel a sense of joy when wearing these clothes as opposed to what they feel when they are wearing the clothes of their own country.
    Chapter 14 leads into the conclusion in chapter 15, which had me very confused. I am unable to believe that the US is to blame for East Africa’s monetary decline. It was noted that if the US was more experienced with the recycling process then this would not be happening. When in reality the US has no ability to get involved with their problems on such a economic level.

  81. Park IV is the completion of the lifecycle of a T-shirt – the post consumer realm. The book points out that men’s used clothing is more outdated and worn-in than women’s used clothing, which makes sense because women discard their close more frequently. This is due to the fast-pace fashion cycle and continual change in women’s fashion styles, provoking the need to consume more. In retrospect, the fashion cycle is a business and consumer driven empire. Prior to the reading, I assumed parts of Africa and Central America would be the largest consumers of American used clothes. I have traveled to Trujillo, Honduras for several months and have seen similar stores with American-like clothes. I figured the owners of these shops must have obtained American products from American companies with excess or outdated products, but I never considered the fact that this is a whole new entity – a used-clothing market. These used clothing shops in developing countries make a 10% profit; if second-hand clothing stores in America were only making a 10% profit, they would most likely go out of business. Americans would be shocked to discover that other countries are fighting over used-clothes; the book mentions dealers going through piles to find “jewels”, i.e. designer-name clothes. This goes to show that there is such a large amount of clothing out there in the world we live in and these civilians in other countries can sustain with what we hand down to them.

    This is insightful to the how the global economy works; how trade policies can affect every aspect of the T&A industry. There really is a lot more do the T&A industry than what most Americans assume. “The hunt for treasure does not stop with the clothing, but extends to the pockets, as Americans throw away not just perfectly good clothing put perfectly good money as well- U.S. dollars, no less”, this quote is a great analogy, after all the clothes we purchase is purchased with money, and when those clothes are thrown away with little use, it’s exactly like throwing away money. I think that students should recognize that while donating clothes is an environmentally conscious gesture, but the act of consuming more is counter-productive. Donating my clothes shouldn’t be a reason to buy new clothes.

  82. I found part four of the book to be extremely interesting. It is amazing to me to learn and to read about others perspectives. It really opened my eyes to see how much excess many of us have and take for granted. It also was crazy to me that a lot of what we would never think to wear out could be considered formal wear in other places. It was also interesting for me to hear about the supply and demand differences between mens clothing and womens clothing. Having taken a supply and demand course this was great to read about.

    “…African women’s clothing preferences exclude much of Western fashion while men clamor for the limited supply of t-shirts, khakis, and suits that are in good condition” and that due to the lack of supply for the African men’s demand, the cost of used men’s clothing is more expensive than women’s. This was very interesting to me because in western fashion I always consider womens clothing to be worth more than mens. But maybe I’m bias. Anther very interesting point to read about was the truth about places like the salvation army. We have had multiple debates about this topic in my TMD 224 classes but it is great to see that other people are opening their eyes to the truth.

  83. Part IV is the concluding section of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. Chapter 13 talks about where t-shirts go after they are donated in the Salvation Army Bin. When you donate clothing it is not the last of it’s journey, it is only the beginning of a new life. donation of clothing offers the ability for a free market for developing countries. This chapter talks about the Salvation Army truck and how the people who donate usually go to the mall later that day. The garments they will purchase will then be thrown away the next year or so.
    Chapter 14 talks about how small entrepreneurs clothe east Africa with old American t-shirts. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The poverty sees a way forward with free market economics. The donation of clothing will help their economy and I believe more people should donate their clothing.
    Chapter 15 talks about if mitumba is a friend of foe to Africa. The barriers to the mitumba trade have in large measure been shown by the groans of the local textile industry. This resembles those of Americans threatened by Chinese T-shirts in 2008. The textile idustry in East Africa is testament not so much to mitumba but to the handicaps faced by African manufacturing in general.
    I think it will be hard for Africans to build their industry without the help of donated clothing and America. There is a new design company that assembled clothing in Spain which is then then decorated and adorn by Africans. This helps build the economy. The rich is getting too rich and the poor is getting more poor. Some developing countries do not have all the resources for the textile and apparel industry. If more design companies helped developing countries then there would be a share of growth and prosperity throughout the world.

  84. I found this chapter very interesting because it is based on a topic many people can relate to. It talks about how as Americans we have an abundant amount of clothing. We buy new clothes for each new season, totaling 4 seasons. Once new clothes are bought people need to make room in there closets so they throw away their old clothes. As americans we throw away clothes or donate them to the poor so easily, because over the years we accumulate a huge wardrobe. The more options of clothing we have the happier we are, unlike other countries who have nearly no clothes and not nearly the amount of clothing options as us. As Americans we are always wanting more and will never be satisfied, always abusing our resources by taking more then we need. I can relate to this part of the reading because I am always cleaning out my closet and donating huge bags of clothing. However when i donated my clothes I never really understood where they went and who was getting them. Then after reading the chapters I realized donated clothes are being sold and exported all over to different countries. I believe clothes should be donated and recycled because not only do you help Americans in need we help other countries. However some countries don’t allow the import of used clothing, this shows how trade polices can affect certain countries textile and apparel industries. I think all countries should allow donated to clothes to be bought and sold to benefit the industry.

  85. One of the topics covered in the last section of the T-Shirt book was the re-use of donated clothing. It is a topic that I had some knowledge of after watching the video several weeks ago. It is also something that I had learned about in another TMD class. It was still surprising to me however, because as I have donated clothes before, I never really took the time to think about where those clothes went and what happened to them. I naturally assumed that once I donated my clothing it was handed off to another American in need. I never thought of the market for used clothing like those items that I have donated to Salvation Army in the past. It ties in issues discussed in sustainability, as the book states that most people who donate clothing will go and buy new clothing to replace it soon after. As Karl stated in class this week, and went into further detail about during the seminar, this leads to an over abundance of clothing in the US, and an increase in waste levels.

  86. After reading the fourth section of the T shirt book, I was both surprised and interested in the information that I found. The book talked about people disposing of their old clothes in order to make room for new items. I can definitely say that I have personally done this, so this was nothing new. Another statement that I was not surprised by, because of personal experience, was that most of the apparel that was being disposed were t shirts. People even said that they have no idea how they ended up with so many in the first place. An interesting fact that really stuck out to me was that, “Rich Americans – or even middle class Americans – excel at throwing things away, and the richer we become, the bigger the mounds of cast of clothing swell.”

    I was unaware of how much used clothing we export to other countries. In past decades, the US has been the largest exporter of used clothes. Tanzania was the 3rd largest export for Americans’ used clothing. Another fact, that I was not entirely surprised by was that men throw away less clothing, and it is usually bad condition due to being worn so often. It is because of this that when men’s clothing, that is in good condition, is imported in Africa it is sold for four times as much as women’s clothing due to the limited supply.

  87. In section four, it talked about the U.S. in the past decades being the world’s largest exporter of used clothing. It was very relatable because, as an upper-middle class citizen, I’ve donated my fair share of used clothing. After I drop it off, I never really think about where it ends up until after reading this chapter. I thought it was appalling that Salvation Army and Good Will CAN and WILL sell many valuable pieces to other vintage stores. I was under the impression that they were a non-profit organization, so I feel like they are taking advantage of donations. How much could I be selling it for? Where’s my money for it?

    We, as Americans, dress for style. But these citizens of foreign countries receiving these donations choose their outfits based on price and utility. What clothes would be most efficient for what they spend most of their time doing. This makes sense for them, but the lifestyle I live does not require that, so I probably won’t be living in that manner.
    I do not recall what class I watched this documentary in, but I’ve definitely watched it before in one of my past TMD classes. The fact that it needs to be repeated in multiple classes shows its importance. We should be educated on the world around us, even if it’s as simple as where our clothing goes after we are done with it.

    After finishing this book, I felt very relieved and satisfied. Not only was I excited that all my work was winding down, but I learned a lot about the apparel industry. This books literally went through the farming of the materials all the way to the day that it completely falls apart. Not one step was missed.

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