In spite of a subsisting government ban, importation and sale of Second-hand items of clothing continue to boom. Observers have, however, fingered the present economic downturn for driving most people to the marginal existence.
Generally, people who work in blue-chip companies wear Western clothing such as new suits, shirts and trousers as well as skirts and blouses. Over the years, however, these items have become increasingly expensive, That is why many workers and other individuals now patronise second-hand clothing markets where they source wears at cheaper prices. No wonder sale.
In the past, Second-hand clothes otherwise known as Okirika were synonymous with the lower class people.
But today, recession and perhaps the poor management of the economy, since the early 90s has led many people including the low and middle-class to go for Second-hand clothes.
Second-hand clothes popularity among Nigerians is growing by the day, making people desert boutiques, which sell new clothes that are prohibitive. It is not a surprise that beneficiaries are out to frustrate government’s efforts in spite of attempts by the Federal Government to ban the importation of Second-hand clothes.
Now it’s not ladies alone who now go for Second-hand pants and bras. Men buy boxer shorts, singlet or tank top and T-shirts, while women jump at the second-hand corset, pants, brassieres, camisoles, knickers, leggings, girdles, nightgowns and more. Investigations revealed that the patronage for fairly used underwears by Nigerian big babes is now on the rise and the decadence has caught up with many and it’s popular among the low-income earners. They have given the used items different names; it is called “Gbogbo” in Delta State; people from the South-East and the South-West call it “Okirika.”
“It is also called “Tokunbo” and generally called “Bend Down Select” (BDS) in some markets. Some markets across the country are well known for the sale of the fairly used items. They include the popular Yaba, Katangowa and Aswani markets in Lagos Nyanya and Wuse markets in Abuja, New Benin Market in Benin city; Igbudu Market in Warri, Kasuwa Barci market in Kaduna.
In spite of the health hazards which experts said could be associated with Second-hand clothes, the clothes are dangerous and could harbour harmful germs for weeks. Wearers are exposed to such syphilis and candidacies, sexually transmitted infections, but Lagos Big Babes have continued to go for them and which has generated mixed reactions . While some people said they would never buy used underwears others said there was nothing wrong with them, saying they could actually get more value for their money by buying the materials. So, it is a matter of choice.
Christabel Okafor, a Unilag student, sees nothing wrong in patronising fairly-used undergarments as they last longer and cheaper than the new ones; “I prefer to buy the used underwears because of the quality. The new ones are of inferior quality and they get worn out easily. Also, the used underwears are always unique,” she said.
According to Oluwatobiloba Debo, a banker in UBA, “I prefer to buy a first grade Second-hand Bra than a new one. Second-hand bras last longer and don’t wear out so fast unlike the new ones. First grade Okirika bras are more expensive than China-made bras,which are very common in the market. After buying the Second-hand bras, soak them in warm water and Dettol and wash with detergent or mild soap, depending on the colour of the bra and it’s ready for wearing.”
Elizabeth Oseme, a staffer of Arik Airline, on her part says; “I don’t think it is hygienic to use any undies for more than 6 months, let alone 1 year. If you have the money go for the new durable ones, such as Victoria Secret, etc. Those ones make you feel very comfortable and push your ‘“Milk Factory” up, with a nice curvy cleavage.”
But really, what is the origin of the fairly-used clothes? It is generally believed that many of the clothes were donated to charity homes in Europe and America. They are packaged and sent down to Africa for the less privileged. But the clothes end up in the hands of traders who sell them at huge profits. The sale of second hand clothes is now very lucrative.
The traders the business was very profitable and enjoyable. “There is money in Second-hand clothes business,” said Mr. Chukwuemeka Obi, who has been in the business for 11 years. “I make much profit from it. The business does not require an enormous capital to start, you can start picking it from traders that open bales, depending on the start-up capital you have or how much you can deposit, the balance is paid after sales,” he said.
However, second-hand undergarments are more popular with most Lagos Babes and have continued to enjoy boom in spite of the challenges faced by the traders. Mr. Nnamida, who hails from Nnewi in Anambra State, sells female second-hand undies at Yaba-Tejusho Market. He explained that the items were brought into the country from the Benin Republic, “we go to Cotonou to buy the items. Tuesdays and Thursdays are market days in Cotonou. On these days, we are sure of getting new arrivals. There is the first grade Okirika, which could pass for new clothes, that is why some big and influential people also patronise us.”
Another Okirika trader, Mrs Stella Nwabueze said as an Okirika trader, the newer and finer your goods are, the more money you are going to make because people prefer to buy those that could pass for new ones. “In this Okirika business, you must understand that Okirika has class.
Second-hand items that could be bought for as low as N200 or N250 now go for N600 to N1,000, yet, people still go for them as if they are going out of fashion. Bukky Jaiyeola, a final year Law student at the University of Lagos, says “she will go for second-hand bras, come rain-come sunshine. In her words, “Are you kidding me? Those Okirika bras are super comfortable and cheap, although, some are expensive. The bras come with metal underneath the cups, they don’t hurt like our local brassieres. Comfortability matters much.”
So, why are second-hand underwears attractive, especially to Babes? One can easily conclude that, it is because they are cheap but that is just part of it. Some believe they are of better quality, comfortable, sexy and they look more colourful and attractive. Besides, there are , availability of all sizes and, they last longer than some new ones.