Friday, 23 May 2008
Human Hair Trade
Each year the hair of thousands of women in India and China is cut off for just a few dollars. Once collected, cut, cleaned and sorted, the hair is exported for different end uses. Short bad quality hair is used for jackets linings, cosmetic brushes food and medicine, but the bulk of the trade is for wig and hairpiece making. Tonnes of waist-length hair make its way from vast warehouses to lucrative auctions and processing factories, eventually arriving in Britain, America and France, where it will adorn the heads of Western women. The demand for hair extensions and cosmetic products means that turning poverty and faith into fashion has became a new market, earning major companies revenues of more that $300 million last year alone.
I have been considering for a while as a potential project the creation of a series of images about the whole process in London, from the basic shops in Brixton that sell the product to the fashionable salons in Chelsea that work with models and wealthy clients. So far getting access to the places where human hair is stored and sold has been difficult and frustrating, but most probably I will be able to attend in the next few days the preparation and shooting of a series of different hair styles as part of the competition for the British Hairdressing Awards 2008.