What started as a social network by Italian entrepreneur and co-founder of PIG magazine Simon Beckerman for readers to purchase items featured in the magazine, this London start up has exploded into one of the top online marketplaces among millennials and gen-z’s — garnering over 15 million users. With the need for little introduction, I’m talking about Depop: the convenient amalgamation of eBay and Instagram social shopping app. Depop has played a huge role in popularizing buying and selling second-hand clothing and steering teens and twenty-somethings into sustainable shopping. It was once a place to sell overgrown clothing from the back of your closet; it has gained a cult following with the reputation of harboring rare vintage items and hub of the latest fashion trends. However, to achieve 'insta baddie' status and a unique fashion style, Depop has undergone gentrification by users taking advantage of the free market to upsell thrifted finds at extortionate prices.
For many people who reside in low-income communities, charity and thrift stores are their only options for affordable shopping. However, with the influx of Depop sellers buying in bulk, second-hand stores have undergone gentrification and have harmed those who rely on inexpensive prices. Yes, thrifting is a sustainable shopping option, but it is not completely ethical to take advantage of a hot commodity while taking away from those who see it as a necessity.
Although gentrification usually refers to the renovation of neighborhoods that typically push out lower-income communities to make room for affluent residents and businesses, the same injustice can be seen at thrift stores. Thrift stores are seeing more and more upper-class Depop sellers enter their establishments, and in turn, are increasing prices because their newer clientele have the ability to pay whatever amount. Primary lower-income thrift store consumers are left to accept these new terms.
There are countless TikToks, Twitter threads, and even an Instagram account called @depopdrama that discuss the exploitative nature of Depop sellers. Items self-proclaimed as “Y2K”, “Vintage” and “Rare Brandy Melville” go for outrageous prices, when they could have easily been found at a thrift store for less than ten dollars . Don’t even get me started with Depop sellers who sell actual toddler shirts and market them as “baby tees” or thrift bundles of extra-large t-shirts only to crop all of them.
I am all for sustainable shopping and think it’s amazing that more people are moving towards ethical fashion; let's all thank Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for their contribution with their 2012 “Thrift Shop” bop. However, all I recommend is to make conscious decisions next time you’re in a charity or thrift store. If you’re shopping for pleasure, look for items you’d realistically wear and remember that fashion trends come in and out of style constantly. You don’t need to revamp your wardrobe every month. Also, think about taking a step back from purchasing clothing you don’t necessarily need but may be essential for someone else, such as winter coats and children’s clothing. Second-hand shopping has a great impact on the world, especially when it’s done responsibly.