After World War II, as economic liberalization spread across the globe through international negotiations like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, so too did used clothing. Though many proponents of the trade laud its capacity to create employment opportunities in less developed countries, critics suggest it has a more insidious deleterious effect on local industry. To this day, however, little research has been done regarding the symbiotic relationship between trade liberalization and the secondhand clothing industry. Some economic scholars suggest that current approaches to liberal trade—unilateral trade preferences particularly—stymy, instead of stimulate sustainable and just economic growth in less developed countries. The secondhand clothing industry, though a relatively minor component of global trade in apparel, may play a crucial role in justifying inequitable trade programs and allowing well-intentioned donors to unwittingly foist unmanageable burdens onto the very people they intend to help.
Kelsey Gasseling, The Threads of Justice: Economic Liberalization and the Secondhand Clothing Trade Between the U.S. and Haiti, 58 B.C. L. Rev. 1279 (2017), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol58/iss4/6