Clothing Poverty

The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes

Andrew Brooks

Clothing Poverty

Andrew Brooks

Distributed for Zed Books

208 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781783600687 Published March 2015 For sale in North and South America only
You look good in those jeans. But are those jeans themselves good? Have you ever looked into where they came from and who made them?

Andrew Brooks has, and with Clothing Poverty he takes readers on a global journey, from fabric to fashion show, to reveal the worldwide commodity chains and hidden trade networks that transect the globe and perpetuate poverty. Stitching together rich narratives from markets in Mozambique, Nigerian smugglers, Bolivian traders, London vintage shops, and growing ethical fashion lines like Vivienne Westwood’s, Brooks draws connections and shines light in the world’s dark corners—and forces us to think anew about fashion, ethics, and our role in global production and exploitation.


1. A biography of jeans

2. Clothes and capital

3. The shadow world of used clothing

4. Cotton is the mother of poverty

5. Made in China and Africa

6. Second-hand Africa

7. Persistent poverty

8. Old clothes and new looks

9. Ethical clothing myths and realities

10. Fast-fashion systems

Review Quotes
“Every once in a while, a book is published that cuts across disciplines and world regions for a refreshing and engaging read.  Such is the case with UK geographer Brooks's Clothing Poverty.…Although written in an accessible way, Brooks frames book content with sophisticated theoretical explanations of colonial history, unbridled neoliberal capitalist expansion, environmental damage involving chemicals and water waste, and the search for “spatial fixes” of labor and new commodification....Highly recommended.”
Karen Tranberg Hansen, Northwestern University
“Andrew Brooks's Clothing Poverty is a lively exploration of the hidden world of fast fashion and second-hand clothing that invites us to think of where our clothes come from. The book reveals a complicated geography of wealth and poverty that make Western consumers complicit in creating a clothing production system that gives people in the global South few chances to escape poverty.”

Kate Fletcher, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
“A mind-opening tour of global clothing systems, from recycling flows to radical advocacy. Andrew Brooks has created a book that sparks with intelligence, mapping a world that connects inequalities, Vivienne Westwood, post-consumption and second-hand garments.”

Alison Gwilt, author of Fashion Design for Living and A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion
Clothing Poverty takes the reader on a global journey to expose the inequalities and injustices that exist within the second-hand clothing trade and the manufacturing of garments destined for Western markets. Thought-provoking and insightful, Brooks highlights a long overdue need for 'radical advocacy' to improve social justice within the supply chain, and between producers and consumers. A fascinating, must-read text for those interested in the ethics surrounding sustainability in fashion and design.”

Alessandra Mezzadri, SOAS, University of London
“This engaging and well-written book significantly contributes to our knowledge of the second-hand clothing trade in Africa. It focuses on some of the least explored outcomes of the fast-fashion system we all live in—that is, what we increasingly and quickly cast off.”
Gillian Hart, author of Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony
Clothing Poverty takes us on a fascinating global journey that provides powerful new insights into how fast fashion and charitable donations of second-hand clothes are connected with persistent poverty in Africa and elsewhere. By bringing global systems of clothing provision into clearer view, the book offers valuable resources for vigorous debate over what an alternative world might look like.”

"Both wide-ranging in its theoretical purview and also in its empirical focus, Clothing Poverty is a quintessentially geographical work. It’s therefore all the more significant that on its publication, the book was engaged with by both an academic and a popular audience”
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