Source: PBS
Source: PBS

A new law in France could add a €5 surcharge to the price of garments. So if a fast-fashion sweater cost €10, its price could be jacked up by 50 per cent. Revenue from the surcharge would support sustainable clothing producers.

In Pakistan, even branded expensive clothes don’t last more than a few washes in the washing machine, requiring frequent trips to the mall. But for the West, fast fashion is all the rage, where clothes are mass-produced by retailers to be sold cheaply and frequently. By one estimate, ultra-fast fashion company Shein uploads as many as 7,200 new items on its website every day.

The legislation in France hopes to curb fashion’s huge carbon footprint, which, at 10pc, is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Recycling and reusing pre-loved pieces reduce carbon emissions and preserve water, energy, and other resources. While it may be environmentally healthy, this practice in Pakistan is led more like demands of the pocket than demands of nature.

Karachiites might reminisce about the sprawling Sunday bazaar Defence locality used to host every week before it was dismantled. Posh cars filled the parking lots (and drove up prices) as folks haggled over the rates of used clothing imports from the West. Though boasting less elite clientele, Landa Bazaar is another such flea market.

The phenomenon continues to take place in pockets all over the country. Pakistan is one of the top used clothing importers in the world, touching nearly a million tonnes in FY22.

Inflation has, in part, led to the rise of pre-loved clothes. As the economy emerged from the pandemic and savings dwindled away, people turned to bazaars and hand carts to bolster their wardrobes. Some media reports suggest that imported secondhand articles meet about 30pc of the clothing requirements of the poor.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, March 25th, 2024

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