New exhibition: Salaula - The International Trade in Second-Hand Clothing

Girls working at the Salaula market in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo: Lotte de Haan.

The trade in donated second-hand clothes from the West to Africa is worth $ 5 billion per year, transforming 8 billion kilos of unwanted garments into a new commodity. Yet vast amounts of these clothes still end up at landfills. 

Salaula is a Bemba word meaning “selecting by rummaging through a pile”. Zambia's booming Salaula markets have pushed out local textile and fashion businesses, which are unable to compete with the second-hand industry and low-quality clothing that is imported from China. 

Donated garments, discarded as undesirable by their original owner, are worn by Zambian people and create a local trading industry while simultaneously suppressing the development of an independent local industry.

Social designer Lotte de Haan investigated the shifting value of clothing waste, tracing its journey from residual product to commodity to residual product: from the collection, sorting and compressing of textiles in the West to their reinvention in Zambia's huge Salaula markets. Collaborating with a variety of vendors in Lusaka’s Salaula market, she has created a collection of pieces of old clothes from wholesalers to clothing pickers and tailors. Each one portrays a geographic territory and the impact of its discarded textiles on Zambia. Together, they express the new global process of the used-before clothing market.

A collection of photographs of the process and of the designs will be presented at the African Studies Centre Leiden.

More info:

The exhibition will be opened on Thursday 6 Februari, 16:00 hrs.There will be drinks and Lotte de Haan will give a guided tour. Please register here.

Date, time and location

06 February 2020 to 06 April 2020