Idlib City’s Market: “Brands” Versus “Second Hand” Clothes  

Idlib City’s Market: “Brands” Versus “Second Hand” Clothes  

Enab Baladi Enab Baladi
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A shop for second hand clothes in the city of Idlib - January 2018 (Enab Baladi)

The markets in the city of Idlib are witnessing an acute recession, especially in al-Khamara street, which contains lines of clothing shops that sell brands. Unusually, the street is almost empty, with a few passersby who throw a look at the glittering shops’ windows and go on walking.   

In Idlib, the shop owners are suffering a commercial relapse, for only a few people are giving these shops a visit, due to the prices that are on the rise and the decline in the living conditions, which turned brand clothes into a dream from the past for 95% of the city’s people.

Between the Past and the Present

Mohsen Mohammad, an owner of a “Masotti” shop in al-Khamara street, spoke to Enab Baladi about “the old good days.”

“Prior to the revolution, these clothes came to Syria as row fabrics from the brand’s agency; they were imported with the design instructions and accessories. The clothes were manufactured in factories licensed by the international companies according to specifications, and then spread in the markets. Their prices were good and suitable for the people’s living conditions.”

“These clothes were actually more expensive than others. However, they were suitable for most of the society’s segments back then, as the majority’s income was sufficient, and jobs were available,” he added.

The international companies, brands, have withdrawn the license from the Syrian factories. Accordingly, merchants resorted to importing clothes from the licensed factories in Turkey, for they are Idlib’s only gate to the world.

The clothes imported from Turkey vary between original brands and “certified copies” of the brands, in addition to clothes that do not carry an international label. Most of these clothes are of a high quality; their prices fundamentally relate to the Turkish Lira, but with the confusion that affected the Turkish Lira in the past a few years, their prices are today linked to dollar.

Mohammad tells Enab Baladi about the people’s demand for these clothes nowadays: “Due to the deplorable situation and financial deterioration, people have forsaken brands and headed towards second hand European clothes, because of their cheap prices and great availability, since they have abnormally invaded the market.”

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the brands’ market is totally absent, for it still has its own specific customers, who enjoy a good financial status and those who are not used to wearing second hand or poor-made clothes, according to Mohammad.

Brand Clothes’ Prices                                                           Second Hand Clothes’ Prices

(According to the Merchant)                                                  (As Spotted by Enab Baladi’s)

New Adidas Pajamas $32-35                                                Second Hand Pajamas $2-4

Nike Shoes $15-20                                                                Second Hand Quality Shoes $8-15

Brand T-Shirt $9-15                                                               Second Hand T-Shirt $1-5

Brand Pants $15-17                                                                Second Hand Pants $3-8

Concerning the market’s situation before and after the revolution, Mohammad said: “There is no comparison. The revenues of each piece varied between 5 to 10 dollars, while, today, the revenues do not exceed the limit of two dollars, in addition to the 80% decline in sales. This coincides with the deteriorating security situation and the operation expenses, including the employee’s salaries, the shop’s rent and others.”

Second Hand Clothes and Price Discrepancies

There is no comparison between the prices of the two types, Alaa Abdul Karim, who owns a stall for “second hand clothes” in Idlib’s market, said.

“There is a difference that goes as far as the distance between the earth and the sky. There is nothing wrong with a second-hand t-shirt. You can buy it for 500 Syrian pounds, and you might pay another 100 Syrian pounds to have it washed; it will become new. With the price of a brand shoes, you can buy clothes for a whole family,” he told Enab Baladi.

Brands are Indispensable Though Expensive

For his turn, Ghalib al-Suwaidi, a young man from the city of Idlib and works in the field of communication and internet, believes that brands are indispensable despite their high prices.

According to al-Swaidi, brand clothes are the best, for a single piece of clothes might hold on for years, while he would have to buy a piece of clothes every two month incase the clothes he bought were poorly made.

“Most people believe that brand clothes are for show off only, but those who tried them understand the difference in relation to time and on the long run. It is true that with the price of a single brand made piece of clothes I can buy ten second hand pieces of clothes, but they will be ruined so fast,” al-swaidi explains.

People have different opinions about the quality of the different types of clothes in Idlib’s markets, and if they are able to comply with the reality of their life.  Everything has it pros and cons; some people are biased to second hand clothes, which they consider as the perfect solution for their current conditions, while brands form only a burden for the merchants who are waiting for a change to take them back to the old days.

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