In the 1960’s US foreign aid to Haiti trickled in in the form of used clothing and the flow hasn’t stopped since. Secondhand Pepe, a documentary film by Hanna Rose Shell and Vanessa Bertozzi, follows the long journey of discarded garments from the ragyards in Miami, to the archives in London and onto the Pepe markets in Port-au-Prince where they are re-tailored and re-sold to fit the styles and peoples of Haiti.
‘Pepe’ is the name for the secondhand markets, the industry, the clothing, and the vendors. And while the origin of the term is disputed, Pepe dominates both the style and the economy of Haiti giving a second life to yesterday’s textiles. Daily shipments arrive on the Haitian shores that are then sorted and taken to tailors and markets throughout the country. Because of Pepe, thousands of tons of clothing each year escape the landfill and find their way back in fashion.