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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

How Secondhand Clothes Sellers Are Driving Conversations Around China’s Recycling Economy

Sivona Lu, a young professional in her 20s, is the organizer of the “trendiest secondhand market” in China’s biggest city, Shanghai.

At her market, you can find discarded impulse buys at bargain prices, vintage clothes that are decades old, or garments that carry fascinating personal histories.

While secondhand fashion may not be a new phenomenon for people in the West — garage sales, thrift shops, and Facebook Marketplace have all become viable places for picking up secondhand items — there are some people in China who still think of “used clothes” as unsophisticated, dirty, or even something that might bring bad luck, despite Chinese people having increasingly progressive views.

Ever since Lu relocated back to China from New Zealand in 2018, she has been looking for ways to participate in recycling events, a passion that she discovered in New Zealand.

“One time while I was hanging out at a boutique store, I was shocked at how cheap everything was. Then I realized that it was a vintage shop. It was quite mind-blowing, because I never knew it was a thing,” Lu tells RADII. “Then, throughout the years, I learned that making the best use of things had always been a deep-rooted philosophy for New Zealanders, which has come to influence my way of thinking.”

However, upon her return to China, she couldn’t find a single place where she could exchange clothes with other people in Shanghai. In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, she decided to create one herself. Starting as a small-scale gathering in January 2019, where she and her friends would swap clothes, it has grown into a multipurpose secondhand fair that now happens every month.



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