No really, don’t buy this jacket.


David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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20 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I guess so? I mean if there’s a limited need/demand for free charitably donated clothing then it makes sense that the best condition articles are sorted out and the rest are recycled. If there’re people going cold/naked for lack of clothes then obviously nothing should be thrown out and it should all be passed along. It’s somewhat ambigous from what you wrote as to which is the case here.Report

  2. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    For the most part, don’t donated clothes get sold in thrift stores, not given to the needy directly? That solves the problems of distribution of bulky stuff. Including just a few bad items along with the good-looking stuff on the racks and shelves would probably hurt sales quite a bit.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Boegiboe says:

      The vast majority of charity clothing donations in the United States go to the developing world.  To be recycled.

      This story makes it sound like a bad thing, which I can’t fathom.  If nobody wants to wear that piece of clothing at any price — not even in the developing world — then recycling at least seems better than a landfill.

      But but but…  it breaks the beautiful dream of some needy kid wearing my old clothing!  It ruins my feeling of smugly satisfied noblesse oblige!  So the market for donated used clothing must be evil.Report

      • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        The workings and macinations of material donations are a subject for another post, but briefly, a lot of people are under the impression that giving things makes it harder for what they give to be put to purposes different from their intentions.

        Leaving aside for a moment whether or not such persons’ intention are wise, selfish, misguided, whatever, suffice it to say that anything that is of value can and will be misappropriated, or at the very least appropriated differently from what a donor may have hope for.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to David Ryan says:

          This is just where things start to get weird for me.

          If I give an old coat to the Vietnam Veterans of America, I don’t necessarily imagine that this coat will go directly to a Vietnam Veteran.  I’d be happy if it did; that’s fine with me.

          But it’s also fine with me if the charity sells the coat and uses the proceeds for health care, or food, or housing, or whatever things the veterans need more.

          I don’t feel like my trust is broken.  I infer that some people do.  This puzzles me deeply.

          I also — especially and emphatically — do not imagine that I have any idea what’s best for the Vietnam vets the charity is helping.  I find it silly in the extreme, even embarrassing, to think that the very best thing for them just happens to be tucked away in my closet.

          But I do have old clothes, and I donate them, and vets get help.  I have a hard time finding fault there.  Which makes me (I suppose, to some) a heartless bastard.Report

          • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Except that what a lot of people suspect (with or without good reason) is that once your old coat turns into cash, it becomes much easier for it to turn into giant LCD screens in Vietnam Veterans of America head office, or first class travel for its executives, or stupid documentary films promoting their programs.

            As I said in my previous, simply recounting what I’ve seen first hand — good, bad and perplexing — would have to be a series of posts. There are good arguments for direct material donation/relief, but their not the sort of arguments that are going to make most people happy.Report

      • Avatar smarx in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Some used clothing ends up being resold in other countries.

        In Japan they’ll probably end up in trendy shops in Osaka’s Ame Mura (short for the Japanese translation for “American village”), or similar places in Tokyo, and re-sold for more than it’s worth.  I met a lady who owned one of these shops.  She went to L.A. twice a year to buy used clothing that she thought her customers would be interested in buying.

        Another person I know is Japan had a small company resold used clothing in South Africa with a business partner who owned a trucking company.  They’d buy several shipping containers like you see at ports and being pulled by trains, ship them to South Africa, put them in smaller parcels and them sell them in markets in rural areas.  Apparently used American clothing was very popular because it lasted longer than the stuff dontated by the Chinese government… which is funny because some of the American clothing was probably made in China.

        Also, I’m not sure if this is still true, but ten years ago tribes in Papua New Guinea were still using a very complex bartering system.  A professor of mine showed a documentary (I think it was called “Unka’s Big Moka”, or something like that) which described the system, and one of the main scenes focused on a big man who was often shown wearing a shirt that said something ridiculous.  The professor figured that he got from bartering from someone else who got it from an urban area where there were missionaries.  The location of the documentary was too far in the bush for regular contact with outside people.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        “The vast majority of charity clothing donations in the United States go to the developing world. To be recycled. (linked story) makes it sound like a bad thing, which I can’t fathom. ”

        Two reasons. The first is that donating clothing, as with most charitable donations, is about the donator more than the donatee. The donator wants the moral aggrandization of Donating Clothing Instead Of Throwing It Away. That the donated clothes go to needy poor persons is an important part of that process.

        The second reason is that if they’re just being sold, well, hell! I could’ve sold ’em myself! I just gave Goodwill a whole bunch of money for free!Report

  3. Avatar wardsmith says:

    The overarching theme of the OP to me is America’s staggering wealth. As I recall my Jr High geography classes, one of the first things an impoverished developing country does to “get developed” is establish a textiles industry. It is sort of industrialism on training wheels. The maps in the textbooks used to show little icons representing the industries and if you saw one that was primarily textiles and say minerals, you knew you were looking at a “poor” country.

    A lot of ink is spilled in the New Testament about clothing. There are parables about it, stories where clothing features prominently and even at the end during the crucifixion they make a big point of showing that Jesus’ outer clothes were the prize in a game of lots. When people were mad they “ripped” their own clothes, this must have been a major deal in a society where your clothing completely denoted your stature.

    In America today, the wealthier you are, the more you can “dress down” and get away with it. I’ve shook hands with about a dozen billionaires over the years and all but one of them were wearing jeans although a few were wearing jeans with sport coats. I know when I made the majority of my money I donated about 30-40 suits (all of them, whatever the number was). I only regret it when like earlier this month I had to go to a funeral and felt a bit bad about wearing a sport coat to it. I can’t think of another venue where I care. Even when I’m talking to VC’s and trying to raise money for some company or other, I dress like they do, tan dockers and blue blazer. Clothes are no longer the signaling tool they once were and I’m not sure what the replacement is.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

      Clothes are no longer the signaling tool they once were and I’m not sure what the replacement is.


      Edit: More precisely, syntax?Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

        Dahling, I’m sure they talk exactly like this.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

          I’ve thought about it and I remember one of my friends who was a professional poker player in Vegas for a while telling me about his watch.

          It was, of course, a Rolex. He explained to me that most of the people he played against in the cash games were really rich and there weren’t that many ways to communicate wealth non-verbally with modern (post-internet) sensibilities. Folks wear Tommy jeans and LL Bean shirts even though their net worth was 8 or 9 figures… and they would think that he was a shark out to take their money instead of “one of them”. This cut into his bottom line… until he got the Rolex. At that point, he became yet another rich dude on vacation in Vegas and, hey, he just happened to be lucky on the big hands.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

      I’d say clothes are still a huge signaling tool. If you reached a certain level of power/privilege you can afford to dress down since a) the people  you interact with all know who you are and b) people don’t feel they have to show their status since they already feel powerful. Among people with less status showing status threw certain labels is still important.Report

      • Avatar David Ryan in reply to greginak says:

        “Thoughtfully, Patagonia had sewn its distinctive label on both sides, and on the zipper pull as well.”


        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to David Ryan says:

          I always thought it was sad that Coach rhymes with gauche.

          The wealthy men I know (not to be confused with the (now) wealthy women married to them) really aren’t that fond of fashion. Admittedly I don’t know any metrosexuals. Wealthy men want quality and comfort, the difference is they don’t balk at the prices. Shoes might be the most telling item in their wardrobes, and you’d have to know your shoes pretty well to spot the difference. I’ve seen women wear horrendously uncomfortable shoes with the “in” label on them and I’ve never seen a man wearing anything that wasn’t comfortable first. Just to be extra obnoxious I make sure to wear brown Cole Haans if I’m playing dress up.Report

          • Avatar David Ryan in reply to wardsmith says:

            I have just recently switch from a (very) small Coach bag to a rather larger Timbuk2 bag (you can see it on a table in the back right of this photo.)

            I have an essay in the works on bags, purse, wallets, briefcase, etc.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to wardsmith says:

      Maybe time use? Travel? I honestly don’t know. Homes (number and location) perhaps?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to wardsmith says:

      no rich man dresses down. the dressing up can be invisible to you and I, but it’s all in the custom tailoring. Knew a great seamstress — she could make you look like the nines, in practically anything.

      signals still exist, they’re just subtler than “emblazon Polo on everything” which is the yuppie substitution for the “breeding” to know when something is custom tailored by a designer.Report