Gentrification of ThriftingThe gentrification of thrifting is impacting the availability of second-hand clothing for people in need. Although thrifting existed from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, it had not gained widespread popularity until the 1970s onward. Furthermore, the scale at which this now $119 billion industry operates signifies its importance to the fashion industry and mass media. While thrifting has captured the interest of many young consumers, the consequences of this overconsumption prove to be more harmful than initially intended.

The History of Thrifting

Thrifting has existed for centuries across various cultures, but it was not until the late 1800s that thrift stores began to appear all across the U.S. As immigrants integrated themselves into the evolving American culture, they struggled to be accepted by mainstream society, often seen as those who took opportunities away from U.S.-born citizens. Many low-income individuals sought to create secondhand shops in collaboration with the Salvation Army, however, secondhand clothing held a stigma that deterred the general public.

At the turn of the 20th century, these locations began to change their marketing tactics to resemble popular department stores emerging at the time. From then on, they appealed to a broader range of people and the stigma began to disappear. It was not until the last half-century that modern thrift stores aligned with popular fashion, moreover when maximalism became all the rage.

Throughout the mid-to-late 2010s, fashion companies worldwide, including Levi Strauss and H&M, formed an arrangement to push sustainable fashion to the forefront of their businesses. Their proposed sustainable options could not come to fruition without addressing the issue of unethical production methods. Once fast fashion increased in scale, garment producers overlooked the human rights side of the equation. Tragedies like the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, sparked the question of ethical textile creation. Thus, thrifting presented an easy switch for consumers. Furthermore, with the increase in internet use and micro-trends perpetuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, thrifting gained traction like never before.

Recent Popularization of Secondhand Shopping

With the upward trend of maximalist fashion —a style that incorporates layers, patterns and other eccentric accessories— consumers acknowledged thrifting as an affordable shopping alternative. This craze began among teenagers and the advent of social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram has merely increased its appeal. Environmental friendliness and avoiding exploitative labor justify the transition from fast fashion websites to secondhand stores. Influencer culture has also weaved itself into the mix, triggering this overconsumption and gentrification of thrifting.

Thrift stores, designed to benefit low-income communities, have been under fire for increasing the prices of secondhand clothing in recent years. Although a majority attribute the online reseller to be the pivotal cause of this shift, more often than not, thrift stores are raising their prices to maximize sales from wealthy shoppers.

The issue pertains to demand rather than the supply of donated goods. The desire for thrifted items has increased, so much so that it is becoming difficult for low-income people to access this support network. Moreover, thrifting has positively benefited the environment and human rights issues. However, psychological determinants, especially among impressionable youth, also play a role.

Changes in the Thrifting Market

A study in Vietnam displayed the growing second-hand market as well as the impacts of social class and cultural perceptions. While many western countries have developed an affluent thrifting environment, others have blurred the lines regarding the practice due to external influences. Some feel good about their decision to thrift due to its low cost and benefits to the environment while others stay away because of lingering social stigma. Each country is attempting to develop its own stance on second-hand goods, but a general consensus has yet to be reached.

Clearing up Misconceptions and Finding a Solution

Misconceptions about thrifting have emerged over the years. Supply is a common segway for thrifting advocates to guilt affluent consumers out of purchasing secondhand. The sheer number of donated clothing has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, but only around 20% become in-store inventory for selling in secondhand shops. The rest are either sent to warehouses to ship to overseas markets in sub-Saharan Africa or end up in landfills. It is an act of overconsumption as an ideology that has erected a majority of the damage; even more so than resellers of thrifted clothing.

Rather than citing specific groups that have contributed to the steepening prices, the best solution to combat the gentrification of thrifting is to spread awareness and encourage ethical buying behaviors, such as avoiding “high-need items in low stock” or simply buying an item that one can use for an extended period of time. Another alternative may be purchasing from vintage clothing or consignment sites that are not geared toward the low-income demographic. This way, one streamlines where their clothing originates from and can avoid situations where the seller mass purchases items from mainstream thrifting locations.

By addressing the gentrification of thrifting through conscious thrifting behaviors, secondhand shops can still serve the people most in need.

– Sena Ho
Photo: Flickr

Mall for Africa Boosts Prosperity
Mall for Africa boosts prosperity by allowing African consumers to purchase items from retailers located in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company’s innovation offers a secure and easy way for African citizens to purchase items online.

The Foundation of Mall for Africa

Chris Folayan, a Nigerian citizen and the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa, opened Mall for Africa in 2016. Foloyan founded this organization in Nigeria because this nation is the most affluent and high-powered country in Africa. Folayan has plans for Mall for Africa to expand in several other African nations as well, such as Ghana and Kenya.

The primary objective of Mall for Africa is for customers to purchase items from the U.S. and the U.K. and to market their own goods effectively in the absence of fraud and theft. Companies transport their products to the United States and United Kingdom infrastructures. Africa then receives the items.

In 2018, Mall for Africa began coordinating with the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in order to construct facilities in 15 of Africa’s nations. The purpose of this was to reduce shipping costs from international companies and allow for secure payment methods with provincial dollars.

Africans who make purchases online often pay high-cost fees for shipping items. To counter this, Mall for Africa opened storehouses in Portland, Oregon and London to reduce transportation costs. Furthermore, customers are able to purchase items using their own currency through new payment options.

Market Advantages

Mall for Africa boosts prosperity in Africa because of the availability of supplies and materials that generate employment opportunities, improve schooling and new forms of medical treatment. In particular, one entrepreneur purchased a sewing machine which enabled her to begin her own sewing operation. Educational institutions have benefited from Mall for Africa by having the ability to purchase necessary academic materials. These materials include items such as computers and books.

The medical field has benefited from the ability to obtain medical equipment. This gives doctors the ability to effectively pronounce medical conditions and offer treatment options.

Mall for Africa has helped create jobs for Nigerian residents. For instance, more than 60 citizens work full-time. Some expect the number of workers to increase with the implementation of new infrastructures in other African countries.

Since the company first launched, Mall for Africa has boosted prosperity in terms of profit. In fact, it has produced millions of dollars in yearly profits. An expansion of profits should happen due to the implementation of this business in other African nations. In 2019, Nigeria and Kenya are expecting to see a large increase in sales due to the development of various enterprises and the expansion of the working class earning more pay.

eBay’s Collaboration with Mall for Africa

While Africans are able to purchase products overseas as of 2017, Americans now have the ability to purchase original artifacts from Africa through the Mall for Africa application on eBay. Residents in some countries have the ability to sell their artifacts through eBay and market these products to U.S. consumers. Some of these countries include Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Burundi. The commodities will be available through the Mall for Africa application on eBay, which enables entrepreneurs to expand brand awareness and increase economic prosperity in Africa.

The primary groupings of products are fashion, antiques and jewelry. Mall for Africa will likely include other groupings in the future with the addition of other African countries selling their products.

Mall for Africa’s shipping co-partner, DHL, handles the transportation of all packages. The merchant packages their items then delivers the package to the closest DHL shipping facility. In February 2017, DHL reported a substantial rise in international sales. The company predicts that by 2020 the online market will progress at a rate of 25 percent annually. That is close to double the volume of sales achieved nationally.

While this partnership is expected to expand inventory to the United States, there will also be opportunities for economic advancement for Africans who now have the option of selling their products internationally. Overall, Mall for Africa boosts prosperity for the African continent.

– Diana Dopheide
Photo: Flickr

Online shopping or E-commerce in America has been growing at an extremely fast rate. With the increasing popularity of smart phones and tablets, more and more consumers are shopping online. Online shopping has many advantages over traditional approaches.

The first advantage is that consumers can easily access the virtual store from anywhere, at any time, through smart phone and tablet applications. Many companies are getting away from physical stores and moving into the virtual world. The internet has the ability to reach a wider range of customers and cut down on operating costs for companies.

The second advantage of online shopping is that consumers can easily compare pricing of the same product across different websites and different companies. Last but not least, E-commerce offers a more competitive pricing structure to satisfy the shoppers.

In 2012, E-commerce sales in the U.S reached almost $289 billion, a shocking number compared to $256 billion in 2011. This number is expected to grow to $361.9 billion by 2016. While one third of e-commerce sales come from travel and flight booking, the majority of purchases are from retail sales.

The leading categories in retail e-commerce are Electronic/Appliances (21.93%) and Apparel/Accessories (20.93%). With the holidays approaching, the e-commerce sector is performing better than ever.

Along with the growth of e-commerce, many internet retailing companies are contributing more towards the fight to end global poverty. One of these companies is Amazon has implemented a program to support the cause, contributing up to $40 for every $1000 spent toward global poverty reduction.

Check out the Borgen Project Amazon Link. At the same time, many other organizations like Tom’s Shoes, offer free products and services to people in poverty around the world.

According to the numbers, between $17 billion to $28 billion can be contributed annually to global poverty reduction just by shopping online alone. To put this into perspective, the USAID annual budget is only $33 billion, UNICEF’s budget is even lower at $11.7 billion, and the annual short fall to end world hunger is $30 billion.

U.S consumers alone can make up for more than UNICEF’s budget and almost enough to cover the short fall to end world hunger. Consumers should strive to increase their awareness of organizations offer contributions and get enrolled. It is easy, simple, and comes at almost no cost to the online shoppers.

Phong Pham

Sources: Borgen Project, Statista,