A FEW years ago, one would surely get frowned upon if he or she disclosed that they bought their clothes from secondhand clothing stalls at Mupedzanhamo in Mbare.
Back then, buying trendy clothes and designer outfits from upmarket shops in the city centre was the in-thing.
By Feluna Nleya
However, the recent economic meltdown coupled with a massive drop in the standards of living in Zimbabwe has brought with it a paradigm shift in terms of clothing preferences with secondhand clothes now becoming trendy.
Consumers now prefer them because they are affordable and sometimes some of the items are of high quality — never mind the fact that they have been worn before.
NewsDay recently visited a number of vending sites in the capital where secondhand clothes dealers bragged about their thriving business.
A visit to Copacabana flea market showed that prices for various items ranged between $1 and $6.
At Mbare, some blouses and skirts were being sold at $1 for three.
Shoppers who spoke to NewsDay said they were better off buying secondhand clothes than expensive items at boutiques dotted around the city centre, regardless of the stigma attached to the clothes and the inherent risk of contracting skin diseases.
A shopper, Anatolia Chindende said: “It is better to come and buy clothes here (Copacabana) because they are cheap and unique.
“You will not find many people wearing the same dress as you will be wearing if you buy here because they are different, unlike if you buy from the boutiques in town.”
Another shopper Babara Mature said: “If you get into those boutiques, you can find a dress selling $20, but with that same $20 you can get yourself a full outfit including shoes from the flea market.
“I bought two skirts, three T-shirts and a dress and I spent less than $10, and this is good quality clothing.”
Brilliant Manunure, who aslo has a penchant for buying secondhand clothing, said: “I prefer buying at these secondhand markets because you can get good quality clothing. I can buy a designer label at a cheap price and I know that no one will be having the same kind of dress like mine.”
Owners of the goods said selling secondhand clothes was the way to go although business was risky as it sometimes involved smuggling.
One of the secondhand clothing traders stationed at Copacabana, Thandeka Nldovu, said she sells four bales of secondhand clothes a week.
“I have been in this business since last year and it is lucrative,” Ndlovu said.
“A lot of people come and buy here and they want cheap clothing.”
She said buying a bale of clothes costs between $150 and $220 depending on what one would have bought.
Another dealer Tsitsi Kurangwa, who sells from the back of her car, said that she opted for the secondhand clothes business after she realised that Zimbabweans wanted quality, but at affordable prices.
“I go to Chimoio, Mozambique, and buy from there. I realised that my customers no longer wanted clothes from South Africa and Tanzania because they said they were expensive and that they could find many people wearing the same dress, so they opted for the secondhand clothes.”
Mupedzanhamo in Mbare was the most common secondhand clothes market, but of late, more have been established which include the police parking bays at Harare Central Police Station, Copacabana and on weekends places like Park Street, Avondale flea market and Sam Levy’s Village on Sundays also trade in used clothes.