It is no mystery that Depop has taken a permanent place in second-hand fashion. With a world that is looking for sustainable choices whilst staying trendy, Depop has taken the throne of this gap in the market. The company boasts 26 million users selling unwanted clothes, sometimes being advertised for less than the sales section of High Street brands. We all love a bargain, and if we get the option to bag a good condition Juicy Couture tracksuit for half the price of the original, it would just be rude to say no.
Depop helps to reduce the number of items that end up in the big material mountains of landfill, in a society that is constantly focused on current crazes; by generating such a massive following, the app has countered trends of unsustainable consumerism. Depop highlights that sustainable fashion doesn’t just mean wearing your grandma’s cardigans (even though they are pretty stylish).
Nonetheless, this platform is far from perfect. Recently, many of the prices have been driven up by labelling clothes ‘rare’ or ‘vintage’, when they are in fact sold-out items from another company, bought with the intention to immediately resell for profit. Likewise, consumers often look to buy clothes on Depop that were made by fast fashion companies because of the lower price point, but these are often resold in exactly the same way. The low-price tags encourage users to buy much more than they need, increasing the chance of the clothes being thrown away after only a short amount of use. With this in mind, is Depop just greenwashed fast fashion?
Depop uses an Instagram-like format for users to advertise their clothes on which makes it very easy to use. In truth, all you need is internet access and a camera, though this is not available to everyone. People in remote areas or unable to afford these things are missing out on cheap clothing that could be a lifeline for them. Surely then, they can just go to a charity shop? Unfortunately, due to the high interest in ‘vintage’ clothing on Depop, thrift stores and charity shops are often drained of their stock in order for some sellers to price them up astronomically. This means that there are less good quality clothes for the people who truly need them. More poorly made items will be purchased only for them to break, triggering a cycle of buying and selling that could be avoided if one, high quality garment was bought. There is a mindset that clothes can always be bought and then resold or thrown away because of the low costs they are sold at initially.
Despite the issues of Depop, it is important not to overlook the benefits it can bring. For instance, people who may have difficulty working due to time constraints, disability, or illness are easily able to sell clothes and make money for themselves. During the pandemic, when people have been furloughed or lost their jobs all together, this app is another way to make some money on the side. For those who turned to Depop as a necessity, it may allow them to buy vital items like food.
Alongside these benefits, Depop has lengthened the lifetime of some garments by encouraging ‘thrift flipping’, transforming clothes into new pieces that fit modern trends. For example, old rugby shirts could be made into a cropped shirt and matching skirt for a cute co-ord. This re-fashioning means that less clothes are going to landfill, and people are finding creative ways to work with old material. The more we do this, the less has to be thrown away, decreasing the demand for new clothes. It’s definitely a two-birds, one-stone situation.
All in all, there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to Depop. I do believe it is a great start for society to move away from fast fashion and towards a more sustainable world. For people wanting to live more mindfully, the app can act as a stepping stone towards buying less altogether, shopping in charity shops, or online through ethical websites such as ‘Gather & See’. So no, Depop is not a greenwashed front for more fast fashion, but we do nonetheless need to question why each item is being sold, use it for the right reasons and try to reduce our consumption altogether.