(Jamaica Observer) Jamaica’s importation of wigs and weaves is set to hit $1 billion this year based on growth over the last four years.
The island officially imported US$7 million (J$735) million worth of the product in 2012, up from J$3.3 million in 2008, according to trade statistics. While the country imports large quantities of the product, it fails to export any of its own national’s hair to minimise the trade deficit.
Additionally, the imports are up to 14 times that of neigbouring Caribbean islands.
Some 50 per cent of the imports originated from China (wigs and eyelashes) in 2012, representing US$3.5 million. But for some reason, the China data appears to omit human hair which would have grown the figure substantially.
The remainder includes US$3.5 million (human hair, wigs and eyelashes) from the US, South Korea and Dominica Republic, according to the International Trade Centre, an affiliate of the World Trade Organisation and United Nations.
Women and men are increasingly wearing synthetic and ‘recycled’ human hair as necessity rather than luxury.
“Fake hair is not necessary for survival but has become a staple for many women,” according to Dr Veronica ‘Ewurama’ Reid, founder of Beautiful Earth Jamaica, which manufactures a line of beauty products and operates two spas/salons in Jamaica.
The salon caters to natural hairstyles including loc extensions, but not weave and wigs. It’s a distinction discussed in her short book entitled ‘Chances Are You’re Not Natural’ on the shifting tone.
“I think it’s an oversimplification. Extensions aren’t always about looking different and some are undetectable. However, most wigs/weaves serve the same purpose of bleaching-to look like our ‘betters’,” she reasoned to Caribbean Business Report.
The import becomes significant when compared with neighbours, whether larger in terms of economy or population. For instance, Jamaica’s imports are seven times more than that of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Dominica Republic each at some US$1 million. Additionally, that figure rises to roughly 14 times more than in Haiti and Cuba.