Where do Second-hand Clothes Come from

The history of second-hand clothing can’t be specifically traced as it has been in existence since the mid-19th century. It became extremely popular during the Europe colonial era as these clothing were exported to the colonies. And local charity shops also got them to cater to the poor.

After the Second World War, the usage of second-hand clothing was adopted in more countries (mostly African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries). And with the continued effort to curb environmental pollution caused by frequent fashion production, used clothing has become more prevalent in many countries.

But where do second-hand clothes come from? This post is a tell-all on the major second-hand clothing suppliers.

What are Second-hand Clothes

A Lady Checking Out Second hand Clothes
Source: iStock

Just as it implies, second-hand clothes are not new; they were owned and worn by someone else. Regardless of how long you’ve owned them (whether 5 or 10 years), if they are not originally bought and owned by you, they are second-hand.

Usually, second-hand clothing are more affordable than new clothes, which is why they are often in high demand. While it’s believed that they are of low quality because they’ve been used by someone else, some of them are made of good materials that retain their quality over time.

Also, second-hand clothing stores are highly ranked for housing vintage attires. If you are looking for items that were manufactured years ago like the 90s and early 2000s, they will most likely be found in 2nd hand clothes wholesale shops. These types of apparel always come with a high price tag while showing the manufacturing year, brand, and rarity.

Where do Second-hand Clothes Come from

Stockpile of Second hand Clothes
Source: Pinterest

Used clothing can be gotten from different sources after which they are checked and sorted for reliability purposes. Below are the major places where second-hand clothes come from.

Community Centers

These are common in wealthy areas where many people have clothes to give away. A location(s) in the community is designated for receiving used clothing. After which appointed personnel will assess them to know the ones that are in good shape and the bad ones. The good ones are given to the less privileged or sold (depending on the community). While the bad ones are thrown in landfills.

This is one of the means used to balance the economic system in the community as the poor benefit from the wealth of the rich. They get used clothing, enabling them to use their limited resources for other basic needs.

They can also be given out or sold outside the community.

Self-built Recycling Systems

These systems are built to collect and amend used clothing. This is done to improve on clothes with low quality, making them suitable for use by another person.

Using these systems, the clothes are first checked and the bad ones are removed. Afterward, the remaining are sorted into different categories, such as shirts, skirts, trousers, shoes, sweatshirts, etc. Following that, they are mended and dyed to reflect fine measurement and dimension. They can also be recycled and transformed into other styles and colors.

Self-built recycling systems are reliable sources for neat and attractive second-hand clothing.

Charitable Donations

This is majorly done by westerners. They don’t subscribe to the use of clothes for a very long time. Rather than getting rid of them, they make donations to charity organizations and then distribute the clothing to the less privileged. It’s believed that this approach is a better way of curbing cloth wastage and maintaining a sustainable environment.

Some organizations that benefit highly from this are orphanages and foundations. Rather than discarding clothes, people often donate them to these establishments in a bid to help the needy.

School and Government Projects

Students are one of the major users of clothing. Schools are sometimes used as locations for housing and recycling second-hand clothes. The government also helps in pushing this movement as they use their influence to increase the number of clothes that are gotten, which are afterward recycled into better forms for consumers.

Oftentimes, the school management and government work hand-in-hand, providing the resources that are needed to ensure the success of these projects.

Hubs for Textile Recycling

These are specially built hubs that are filled with cutting-edge machinery and resources that are used in recycling different types of textile materials used in making clothes. These materials are acquired and recycled into advanced clothes.

Textile recycling hubs are usual spots for second-hand clothing as they make use of all kinds of used apparel, including damaged ones. They offer a wide array of used clothes options, as well as vintage clothing that reflects unique styles.

Old Clothes Recycling Factory

They are similar to textile recycling hubs, offering bale clothes that provide customers with the opportunity to select from numerous options. Old clothes recycling factories are designated buildings that are primarily used for mending old clothing.

Several wholesalers source their products from these factories as they are provided with many clothes at a cost-friendly price. They also house old clothing as far as the 90s.

Used Clothes Exporters

A common source where you can get second-hand clothing is from used clothes exporters. These are businesses that deal with the sale of already used clothes of which one of them is second-hand clothing exporter – Indetexx. They are known to have a wide variety of options, such as second hand sneakers, shirts, skirts, trousers, mixed rags, etc. This makes it possible for finding all you need in one spot.

Also, they provide additional advantages as their services can be accessed online, ensuring that customers in other countries don’t face any constraints in placing orders.

In addition, customers are provided with 24/7 online services, which include quick responses to inquiries, as well as offering the best advice as regards the most suitable clothing.

Thrift Stores

These are shops that sell used clothes at a cheaper price. They are very common in African and Southeast Asian countries as they are the major users of second-hand clothing. Thrift stores source all kinds of used clothes, ensuring that there is more than enough apparel available for selection.

The clothing sold at these stores is extremely cheap, making it easy for low-income earners to find affordable clothing.

Vintage and Retro Fashion Shops

Vintage and retro clothes are usually apparels from years back. They are called vintage and retro because their designs are unique and exceptional. Nowadays, they are used for fashion, hence why their need is very prevalent. They are often worn by celebrities to showcase their uniqueness. Also, they are very suitable for some specific occasions, such as thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties.

Vintage and retro fashion shops house a lot of used clothing that has fine designs and are rare. In fact, some cloth manufacturers check out these designs to make new clothes.

Resale Boutiques

These are boutiques that deal in the resale of clothing. They are high-profile second-hand cloth stores as only high-quality and top-brand used clothing is sold. Based on the nature of their business, their goods are more expensive than normal second-hand clothes.

Oftentimes, some of the clothes sold in resale boutiques are mistaken for new clothes. This is because they are A-grade apparel with no defects. These clothes are fairly used and almost in their original condition, making them have a high price tag.

Resale Retail Businesses

These are small-scale businesses that deal in the retail trade of second-hand clothes. They sometimes get their products from wholesalers and other times from community centers and individuals who want to do away with their clothing.

Resale retail businesses take advantage of their structure as they are closer to the end users. This helps them to sell the clothing off to consumers who need them.

Which Countries do Second-hand Clothing Mainly Come from

Packaged Second hand Clothes
Source: Indetexx

Nowadays, used clothing is perceived as a symbol of economic struggle as they are becoming more popular in undeveloped and developing countries. However, finding the best source is required as many countries sell used clothes that are low-quality.

Second-hand clothes are mainly from western countries. In these places, the average person doesn’t wear clothes for long. Instead of throwing them away or disposing them in landfills, they are encouraged to donate them to charities.


China is one of the best sources of second-hand clothing at wholesale. And this is a result of the country’s large population and increase in the standard of living. According to statistics, in the last 20 years, China has had about 1.5 times increase in cotton consumption, which is speculated to continue increasing in the future. And following the country’s fast, consistent economic growth and urbanization over the past years, the citizens have become used to the use of fashionable clothes.

However, their living standard keeps on increasing, which makes them keep up with fashion trends. And since the citizens have the purchasing power, they keep on buying, resulting in a rise in the number of styles and brands available.

This results in them getting rid of clothes faster than before. Thus, why they are highly recognized as a major supplier of original second-hand clothes. Also, the types of clothing worn in China are related to those used for official purposes in Africa and Southeast Asian countries, and these two parts of the world are the major users of second-hand clothes.


England in the UK is one of the first places where the use of second-hand clothing started. Years back, there was a tradition where the monarch gave some of his clothes to close distinguished subjects. This was followed by compassionate citizens who offer things to help the poor. After a while, it was noticed that some people were willing to pay for used clothes at a reduced price.

Following the natural course of “when there is demand, there is supply,” entrepreneurs immediately rose, ready to put the new business on stream. In this present age, a lot of UK-used items are found in several countries around the world.


It’s calculated that an average American produces 82 pounds of cloth waste every year, which adds up to over 11 million tons of textile waste generated in the US alone.

Seeing this, donation and reselling of used clothing are encouraged. And over the years, the formally discarded second-hand clothes are either donated to charity organizations or given to the poor in the community. Also, they are being exported to undeveloped and developing countries.


Second-hand clothes trading began to appear evidently in Russia in the early 90s. Before then, they were gathered and stored in baskets and boxes in stuffy rooms. Many people termed these rooms as dull, uncomfortable, and cramped basements filled with bad clothing.

However, times have changed now. Currently, Russia is at the same level as other European countries that seriously trade used clothes. Now, the basements where they are housed are spacious and bright. The clothes are sorted into categories like children, men, women, summer, winter, etc., making it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.

Japan and Korea

Asides from China, these are the other two Asian countries where second-hand clothing usually comes from. They have established textile manufacturing factories, machinery, and processes, which makes the production of clothes very easy. Thus, production is carried out frequently, providing a constant availability of new clothes and making trending clothes quickly obsolete.

Because of this, the citizens get rid of clothes quickly, making them available for second-hand users. Japan and Korea are major hubs for used clothes.

How to Get Rid of the Second-hand Clothing Smell?

Second hand Clothes Laundry
Source: iStock

Second-hand clothes are commonly known to come with a specific smell, which many people like to kill. Well, getting rid of it is simple. After the first wash, the smell will disappear. And in other cases, where the smell is intense, it will take another wash and proper rinsing to kill off the smell totally.

Why Recycled Used Clothing are Popular

Sourcing Used Clothing for Recycling
Source: iStock

Second-hand clothing is more popularly used by the less privileged who make up the most number of people in undeveloped and developing countries. On the other hand, vintage used clothes are also loved by wealthy folks because of their uncommonness.

The reasons above are some of the major benefits enjoyed from recycled used clothing. Others will be discussed below.

  • Reduced Price

Inexpensive clothing is arguably the major reason why a lot of people buy second-hand dresses. These clothes are devalued because they’ve been worn before, making them not to be 100% original as when they were produced in the factory. The price of an original clothing might be $20, but after years of usage, it would cost less. This affordability makes many people interested as they would spend less money to buy more clothes.

Also, it contributes to the circular economy as the less privileged benefit from basic resources they cannot afford. As the wealthy buy new clothes, the poor get to cover themselves by purchasing the used clothes at cost-friendly prices.

  • Environmental Sustainability

Recycled used clothing helps to maintain environmental sustainability as instead of getting rid of clothes in landfills, they are given a new life to be worn and cherished by other people. By doing this, landfills don’t get filled with used clothes, thus making the environment clean and conducive for living.

Also, this helps to curb environmental pollution that arises from the activities of the textile industry. The production of clothes is estimated to be responsible for approximately 20% of worldwide clean water pollution, which is caused by dyeing and finishing processes. With the use of second-hand apparel, lesser new clothes are manufactured, keeping the environment safe from pollutants.

  • Availability of Vintage Clothing

Vintage has become fashion, so people source clothing from second-hand suppliers, and retouch them for optimal quality. These sets of clothes are sold for high prices. Owning a wardrobe filled with quality vintage clothing offers an individual distinct style that many people will admire. Instead of showing up at events in the same fast-fashion attire as others, vintage clothes make an individual stand out from the crowd.

Also, some vintage clothes have stories behind them. So other than being unique, vintage clothes serve as a symbol of remembrance. But a little advice, pairing vintage clothes from different eras could be disastrous. Instead, pair vintage attires with modern ones for a unique yet stylish appearance.

  • Wide Range of Options

In communities where there are limited textile manufacturing companies, the clothes worn by the citizens tend not to be different. But second-hand clothing provides a wide range of options, allowing people to choose from clothes that are imported. This ensures that colleagues don’t end up wearing the same dress to meetings.

In another light, second-hand clothing offers the opportunity of using different designs from a wide variety of brands.

  • Time-tested Quality

Recycled used clothing has a high guarantee of quality. This is because they’ve been used for years and are fit for reuse. All sorts of defects have been seen and fixed, making them 100% original again.

Other than new clothes that are yet to be tested to confirm if they won’t bleach after coming in contact with water or to know if they won’t tear easily, second-hand dresses are tested and trusted.

  • Avenue for imagination and Creativity

This is a benefit highly enjoyed by manufacturers as they are provided with already-produced clothes that fuel their initiative and creativity. Picking ideas from several brands’ production, manufacturers draft out outstanding designs and styles. This makes them stand out amongst their competitors as their clothes will be very different from what exists.

Effects of COVID-19 on the Second-hand Clothes Market

Second hand Clothing Market
Source: iStock

Coronavirus effect on the second-hand clothing market is a two-edged sword.

Firstly, the stay-at-home prevented the fashion industry from functioning, thus reducing the number of new clothes manufactured. The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the fashion industry promoted the adoption of second-hand clothing as people had to bank on clothes that were no longer in use.

On the other hand, quite a number of people were skeptical about buying used clothing due to the fear of contracting the virus. However, under the influence of this general environment, people are more and more accepting of second-hand clothing, because some second-hand clothing exporters such as indetexx will fully disinfect all second-hand products, including second-hand brand shoes, before transporting, and people no longer need to worry about viruses.

Get Second-hand Clothes in Bulk from Indetexx

Extensive Manufacturing Capabilities
Source: Indetexx

With an established sourcing system that constitutes facilities that are located in strategic places across China, Indetexx offers the best used clothing. Having over 70,000 collection points and a steady supply of second-hand clothing, at least 1500 tons of stable material inventory are always available to meet customers’ demands.

The used clothes are thoroughly inspected as only the ones with a minimum of 90% pass rate are accepted into the warehouse while the rest are declined. This is done to ensure optimal quality as the clothing will be recycled. Afterward, several inspections are conducted at each production stage to guarantee high quality.

Having all the resources needed in place, Indetexx provides a wide range of second-hand items options, including clothes, shoes, bags, toys, rags, etc., at a cost-friendly price. Following our partnership with different reputable brands, such as AIHUISHOU, Alibaba’s Alipay App, and School & Government Projects, recycling and sale of used clothing is enabled at a faster rate and cheaper price.

Offering several customization services, like color, logo, and packaging, we ensure that your demands are fulfilled to the latter. And thanks to our long-standing relationship with reliable courier services, your order will be delivered to you quickly while you enjoy free logistics tracking.

You can contact Indetexx today for all your second-hand clothes needs!

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