Managing the Used Clothing Trade

Shannon Brady, Sheng Lu

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781350990258.0003
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The world export revenue of used clothing has significantly increased from only $1.6 billion in 2006 to $3.2 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, the world used clothing trade flow is highly unbalanced, with most exports coming from developed countries and most imports sold in developing countries, especially the least developed ones. Through a recent high-profile trade dispute between the United States and the East African Community (EAC) over an import ban for used clothing, this case study intends to illustrate the complexity of regulating the used clothing trade, which involves economic, social, legal, and political considerations that go far beyond used clothing itself. The content of the case material is developed based on ten in-depth interviews with decision-makers and stakeholders directly involved in the trade dispute, including senior US trade policymakers for textile and apparel, the leadership of the US used clothing exporters, and industry representatives from the EAC countries.

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