Topic of Discussion: The Trickle up Theory in the 21st Century

                    People can easily get so lost in clothes, fashion, or style just because everything involved is related to something it was inspired from in which causes a sort of depth. Following fashion can be a hard and long journey but finding out why people are wearing the clothes, talking about fashion, and looking at the style actually can derive from one common theory, depending on the specificity of the topic.  In the 21st century one relatable theory is called the trickle up theory. Delong explains that “this theory [is] the innovation [that] is initiated from the street, so to speak, and adopted from lower income groups. The innovation eventually flows to upper-income groups; thus the movement is from the bottom up”. This is another representation of a pendulum theory hypothetically because in the 15th century lower class always was imitating the higher class. Now popular trends can swing either way regardless of whether it started from higher class or lower.

However, throughout the 21st century the trickle up theory has been highly innovative to many different types of consumers due it evolving from the bottom up. Seeing that there is so much variety in the world now decades from the past are constantly coming back into style and many consumers are resorting to finding these things not only cheaply and thriftily but also making  these findings trendy. Earlier on in decades going to resale stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange and etc were only for the lower class considerably. Vintage fashion has become hip and flea market finds are a source for fashion change. (Brannon, 2010). Now more and more people are going to these stores to find clothes because they want to dress a certain style. Mackinney-Valentin mentions that “it has been argued that trends tend to come from the street and from subcultures in a process that has been described as a “trickle-up” or “bubble-up” effect”, and seeing people that have to go to resale stores just because those are the only places they can afford to shop and clothe themselves has had an influence on more people going to resale shops. The trend has become so popular that people are constantly blogging about where they got their unique items and for the amazing price they received it. Some people from YouTube also video blog about their findings, record them going to the actual store, how they re-fixed or reused the item to their advantage referring others to start going to shop there.


The shirt I am wearing in the last photo is from Goodwill. Coming from a personal stand point, I use to think that only poor people went to shop at Goodwill or Salvation Army and I honestly would have not been caught in one of the stores back in 2008. Now thrift stores are the first places I go when wanting to find something unique perhaps something that no one else will have. “Thrifting” is something people constantly are going to especially broke college students who are crafty and can make it look like it something bought from a retailer like Forever 21 or H&M. If it weren’t for the lower class needing stores such as Goodwill or Salvation Army this trend would not exist, and the trickle up theory would not be valid. Some antique stores can become extremely pricey due to it being in such good condition and it being the only item of it left , a celebrity could easily get it over a college student. Thrifting and resale shops are extremely different and are easily related to the trickle up theory during the 21st century.



















DeLong, M. (2005). Fashion, Theories of. In A–Z of Fashion. Retrieved from

Brannon, E. (2010).  Introducing innovation. In O.  Kontzias & J. Bergeron (Eds.),  Fashion forecasting. (pp. 93-98). New York, NY: Fairchild Books.

Mackinney-Valentin, M. (2010). Snapshot: Trends. Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: Volume 10 – Global Perspectives . doi:

2 thoughts on “tRICKLE uP.

  1. chroukunt

    Great post I personally love thrifting myself too because you can always find the same style of stuff you can find in major stores but they are one of a kind and unique instead of getting possibly caught in the same stuff as someone else that shops from a major retailer that mass produces clothing.That’s the thing with fashion the majority of things come back in style and you can find them at your local thrift store,re-purpose it and and restyle to fit the look you’re going for.I also love how you mentioned that you wouldn’t be caught in a thrift store back in 2008, I felt the same way but the times have changed since then and it’s kind of the thing to do now.

  2. qianqianzheng

    Awesome! I like the information you shared with us! Thrift is a great example about trickle up effect, and the example about yourself shows us again that as a student, we can also be fashion lead.


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