Goodwill’s “Thrift Style” exhibition showcasing the art of upcycling

Stop by the “Thrift Style” art exhibit located in the Keller Gallery at the William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. This exhibit highlights the unique possibilities upcycling has to offer. Explore the various and individually unique segments of the exhibit, ranging from wedding dress transformations into christening gowns, to birdfeeders from teacups. Upcycling has been a trending artform for decades, used to take one item that is no longer needed for its initial purpose and transform it for a better, new purpose.

During colonial times, buying secondhand was considered uncouth and unhealthy. Clothes began being manufactured at a frantic pace during the Industrial Revolution. Mass production of clothes drove prices down and clothing began to be viewed as more disposable. As a result, pawn shops and scrap stores started to reuse these materials rather than throw them away. By the 1920s, buying secondhand was viewed as helping out your fellow man.

Attitudes towards secondhand clothing changed when religious-affiliated groups like Goodwill started to use secondhand products to help fund their causes. Goodwill was started by a Methodist minister who gathered donations from wealthy Boston neighborhoods. He hired many of the poor to mend and repair those donations. Items were sold in stores and revenue from their sales supported pay for these employees and other community services.  The local Goodwill was started in 1918.

In the 1950s, people started to go to thrift stores in search of vintage couture items. Nowadays, thrift stores are more popular than ever. Shoppers are looking for treasures. And ‘green consumers’ turn to secondhand shopping as an environmentally friendly alternative to buying new. Upcycling secondhand goods has become the focus of online influencers, artists and HGTV shows.

The exhibition is open and will run until March 10th. For more information on Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Center Ohio, visit: