Cerebral Shangrila

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli

I recently read this interesting book. Pietra, who saw countless well-intentioned students protesting against the WTO and sweatshops, decided to trace the journey of a T-shirt to understand what happens due to trade barriers and if there is any truth to the "sweatshop" argument. The book is an amalgam of history, economics and travel diary rolled into one and definitely makes up for an interesting read. My only grouse - The length of the book should have been edited to be much crisper.

The section I found most interesting was the market for " Discarded" T-shirts. What happens to the used T-shirts that we throw into a Salvation army bin or any other charity? It finds its way to Africa where there is a huge second hand market at work for these T-Shirts. Don't think lowly of these customers- they are as brand conscious as the rest of the world - Nike, Disney, Adidas, Levis, Sports ( successful teams) Tees fetch a premium whereas the rest get sold at less than 50 cents a pound.

Here is my Trivia on Second-hand Tees. Can you answer them?

1. Which country is the largest importer ( By $ Value) of second-hand American T-Shirts ( You will be surprised by the answer)?

2. America's largest export to which country is "discarded T-Shirts" ?

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