Artist Jeremy Hutchison has some facts. “Firstly, 24bn items of clothing are donated to charity every year,” he says, “75% of these are shipped to the African continent. Most are sold in street markets but up to 40% are trash: dumped, burned, or heaped on toxic mountains of landfill.” These facts make him angry. “These secondhand garments don’t solve our ecological crisis,” he says, “they are the ecological crisis.”
However, global fashion brands consider the secondhand clothing market a waste management solution. Hutchison says, “They provide western consumers a feel-good pretext to keep emptying and refilling their wardrobes.”
These ideas are explored in Hutchison’s latest work, Dead White Man, in which cloth monsters stalk across sculpture, video, performance and billboards, and which points to the absurdities of fast fashion excess, portraying the secondhand clothing trade as a form of ‘Zombie Imperialism’.