Second-hand clothes finally take off in Japan

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Tokyo, Dec 19 (AFP/APP):A second-hand pop-up store in Tokyo by casual clothing giant Uniqlo was a first for the Japanese firm, but also a sign that a local aversion to used garments may finally be fading.
              Uniqlo is a major player in an industry blamed for immense carbon emissions and other pollutants like microplastics.
              It has ridden a wave of consumers buying, and throwing away, ever more clothes.
              But in Japan, the world's third-biggest clothes market, growing awareness of the sector's huge environmental impact has yet to spark much interest in second-hand options.
              Uniqlo's Aya Hanada said the 10-day pop-up in the hip Harajuku district, where second-hand clothes were a third of their original price -- with some dyed for a "vintage" look -- showed attitudes were changing.
              "I think the feeling of resistance to used clothing has disappeared in Japan, mainly among young people," said the 45-year-old, who works for the firm's recycling programme RE.Uniqlo.
              The change is in part thanks to the internet, she told AFP outside one of Uniqlo's major stores, which allows customers to access items "without having to go all the way to a second-hand clothing store."


              - 'A fashion thing' -


              There is still a long way to go, however.
              In Japan, 34 percent of discarded clothing is recycled or reused, according to the environment ministry. 
              But this includes exports to developing countries, where the waste also often ends up in tips or is incinerated.
              Globally, the equivalent of a truckload of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill every second, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity focused on eliminating waste and pollution.
              JapanConsuming, a market research firm, estimates that the Japanese second-hand segment represents less than six percent of the $75-billion market, albeit with strong growth in recent years.
              For a long time in Japan, used clothes were a small niche confined to hipsters, JapanConsuming's co-founder Michael Causton said.