what are the bale clothes and where are they sold in the Arab world?

what are the bale clothes and where are they sold in the Arab world?

Recently, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “bale clothing” has become quite common in the markets. It has gained significant promotion by merchants on social media and has become a popular choice for those looking to buy good clothes at a cheap price in Egypt. But what exactly are bale clothes? Where are they sold? Read on to find out more.

Meaning of Bale

The word “bale” comes from the English word “bale,” which means a large package or bundle. In the Arabic language, it refers to a container that holds a compressed amount of cotton or clothes. In this context, bale clothes refer to a large assortment of clothes in various shapes and sizes sold in bulk packages. These packages typically weigh in kilos and contain a single type of clothing, such as winter wear, summer wear, men’s, women’s, children’s, etc.

What are Bale Clothes?

Bale clothes are lightly used clothes that are usually imported from abroad, primarily from countries in Europe, the Gulf region, Belgium, Italy, and other countries with a thriving garment industry. Bale clothes have long been present in the Arabic vocabulary and refer to used clothes that are resold to other individuals for reuse. Each bale is compacted and packaged and contains a single type of clothing. Bale packages can include summer and winter clothes for adults and children, and they come in different quality levels. Some bales may include factory rejects or unused items, and each bale has its own price.

Where do Bale Clothes Come From?

There are several sources for the clothes found in bale packages, many of which bear well-known international brand names. The leading exporting countries for bale clothes are Belgium, the United States, Italy, Germany, and other countries with thriving clothing markets. Typically, these clothes come from countries where people frequently renew their wardrobes, and their old clothes are sent to charitable organizations that redistribute them to developing countries.

Global clothing companies also play a role in exporting bale clothes. Major brands often prefer to dispose of old or unsold products, or those with minor defects, to maintain the exclusivity of their brand. Instead of selling them at significantly reduced prices in the same country, they prefer to resell them in countries in need at lower prices. Some companies directly donate the returned products to charitable organizations, while others partner with institutions that collect returned products from various companies and export them to developing countries.

Where to Buy Bale Clothes

Bale clothing markets have flourished in many Arab cities, with the largest ones found in Cairo, Egypt, through the Ataba area and Al-Balaha agency. It is possible to buy used clothes in excellent condition at very reasonable prices. Additionally, you can purchase bale packages by weight from well-known wholesalers, many of whom can be found in the Ataba area.

In the era of technology, many things have become easier. Several Facebook pages and websites have been created to display and sell bale clothes to customers by weight, package, or individual pieces, depending on the price.

However, it is important to distinguish between counterfeit clothes bearing fake brand names and genuine bale clothes, which may have been used or are outdated fashion items that factories have disposed of. Therefore, it is crucial to inquire about the nature of the bale clothes before making a purchase.

Types of Bale Clothes

Based on quality

  • Cream Bale: This includes leftover export garments that are unused and in excellent condition.
  • Creamy Bale: This also includes leftover export garments but may have minor manufacturing defects that are not noticeable.
  • Grade One: These are used clothes that are in excellent condition and have not been worn out.
  • Grade Two: These are generally used clothes that have not been sorted.

Based on category:

  • Winter: These packages contain only winter clothes of various types, and they may include specific categories such as jackets.
  • Summer: These packages contain only summer clothes of various types, and they may include specific categories such as dresses and t-shirts.
  • Men’s: These packages are specifically for men’s clothing.
  • Women’s: These packages are specifically for women’s clothing.
  • Children: These packages are specifically for children’s clothing under 10 years old.
  • Shoes: These packages contain only shoes and sneakers.
  • Sportswear: These packages contain sports clothing or sneakers.

Is Selling Bale Clothes Legal?

In reality, the sale of bale clothes is an illegal business in principle. However, the trade of bale clothes covers more than 60% of the Arab markets. Some countries regulate the trade of bale clothes under specific agreements and quality standards, such as Tunisia and others. On the other hand, some countries strictly prohibit the import of bale clothes, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and most Gulf countries.

In Egypt, the sale of used clothes (bale clothes) is considered an illegal trade because they do not meet standard specifications. However, according to Ministerial Decree No. 770 issued in 2005, the Egyptian government allowed some traders to import used clothes if the person is coming from abroad and carrying their personal clothes, in addition to bale clothes coming to the city of Port Said under the Free Zone fees for charitable organizations. Nevertheless, bale clothes are still smuggled through illegal means and are trafficked despite the ban on their import. They are often falsely associated with charitable organizations to enter the country. According to Masrawy website, the volume of smuggled goods in the Egyptian market accounts for about 60% of the market, with an estimated budget of 7 billion Egyptian pounds.

Advantages of Bale Clothes

  • They provide branded clothes at very low prices.
  • They help push low-quality counterfeit clothes out of the market.
  • There are completely new types of bale clothes without any defects, sold at extremely low prices.
  • You can buy them in packages, by weight, or per piece, depending on the trader.


  • They are sold informally and do not undergo proper inspection, allowing shipments of clothes contaminated with diseases and epidemics to enter.
  • The expansion of the bale market reduces the market for original, large-scale stores, which naturally shrinks during times of pandemic.
  • This trade usually negatively affects the economy and local industries of a country, as it contributes to the spread of unregulated smuggled clothes.
  • These clothes are often old-fashioned and not part of modern fashion trends.
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