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Ropa Americana documents the travels of an old purple t-shirt from the Toronto housewife who donates it to Goodwill Industry to its final destination, a housewife in Costa Rica who buys it in a second-hand store. The film is brightened by an immediacy provided by the unforgetable people involved in the complex chain of events: the donor, the charity worker, the textile company representative, the merchant in Costa Rica and the end user.
The film brings to light the debate between the donors and the businessmen involved in the textile trade, an important commodity in today's global economy. The charitable donor finds it morally and ethically wrong for charities and middlemen to be making money off donated items. The companies involved believe they are running a legitimate and extremely worthwhile business, providing people in developing countries with cheap but good quality clothing. The film's objectivity allows viewers to come to their own conclusion.
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