Young Chinese are big on getting their clothes online—used designer brands offered on the consumer-to-consumer retail site Taobao can be as little as one tenth the price for a new item.
But some of these hand-me-downs are probably not what most people would want to wear if they knew where they had been.
A report by the Zhuhai Television Station in southern China tracked over 100 tons of used clothing imported from an Israeli company and unloaded in the port of Shenzhen. Much of the clothes came from overseas landfills and even hospital morgues, according to local authorities.
Customs officials in Shenzhen, a sprawling metropolis located near Hong Kong, found that most of the items were underwear, including those of famous brands such as Calvin Klein.
Much of the clothing, receiving only a basic wash and ironing job, could be contaminated with harmful bacteria and spread skin diseases, customs officials said.
Chinese gave critical online responses to the news.
“When you buy at Taobao, you are actually buying garbage,” a user from Zhejiang Province wrote on Sohu, a Chinese internet portal. The name “Taobao” literally means “hunting for treasure.”
A comment from Shenzhen posted on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site, points out the low standards of business in China.
“These people are willing to do anything for money. They don’t spend a penny getting these clothes, yet others have to pay them [for getting rid of the trash.] Two birds with one stone.”
“The clothes are real, alright,” a user from Guangzhou posted on Sina. “But other people have worn them before, even dead people. Thinking about it disgusts me.”