A new West Philadelphia thrift shop that doubles as a museum epitomizes the term “fashion as activism.”
Black Ivy Thrift, which opened earlier this month, sells a curated collection of sustainable fashion items and displays artifacts that celebrate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
“I wanted to do something that would continue to amplify all that Philadelphia offers American culture by paying homage to the figures who came through Philadelphia in the civil rights movement, and how they use style to tell stories,” said Kimberly McGlonn, the curator behind Black Ivy Thrift.
Black Ivy Thrift sells hand-curated thrift and vintage items associated with the fashion of the civil rights movement from 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, to 1972, when Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, ran for president.
McGlonn has traveled around the country to find pieces of corduroy, leather, embroidery and florals that embody the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The store offers everything from denim jackets to turtlenecks to polyester pants, with countless opportunities to mix and match the thrift and vintage pieces into unique outfits.
People also can purchase original artwork and decor, plus rare vintage vinyl by musicians like Nat King Cole, first edition books by writers like Maya Angelou and pieces by modern figures like Barack and Michelle Obama.
When people enter the store, they are greeted by a wall covered with artifacts, including vintage gloves, records and magazine covers. Other distinctive touches include a TV screen playing footage from the civil rights movement, a 1959 typewriter and a photo of McGlonn’s great grandparents.