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23rd April 2021

Now that charity shops are open again, will we still be buying from second-hand apps?

Rhiannon Ingle discusses the re-opening of charity shops and the possible effects this will have on online second-hand shopping
Now that charity shops are open again, will we still be buying from second-hand apps?
Photo: umanoide @Unsplash

After months of life indoors, scroll-based shopping, and, if the weather allowed it, a few beers in the park to punctuate your weeks, the world is finally that little bit more normal.

Following April 12th, gyms, outdoor pubs and restaurants, hairdressers, salons, and non-essential shops have re-opened. This means, for both myself and the other charity-shop fanatics, that our beloved pastime is now back on the table.

Following the closure of charity shops, many environmental-thrifters, bargain-hunters, and controversial entrepreneurial resellers have left the sphere of dusty shelves and £1 clothes bins and, instead, flocked behind the comfort of their screens to carry on with their shopping.

Photo: Girl with red hat @ Unsplash

While Depop was the cool, new, and aesthetically pleasing kid on the block of second-hand clothes apps, it has recently come under immense criticism over its contribution to the gentrification of charity shops, massively over-priced garments, and fast-fashion scams posing as sustainable. What was once innovative and indie is now a heavily saturated marketplace. All you have to do is type “y2k” in the search bar and over 1,763,533 items come up.

Ex-underdog, eBay, has since gained heaps of traction as the cheaper and less-clouty version of Depop. Instagrammers, YouTubers, and TikTokers can be seen showing off their Pinterest-worthy wardrobe hauls where all the items shown come from eBay. 

I remember what eBay used to be like when I was a kid. A weird online auction place where the elderly fumbled around buying misprinted coins or limited edition stamps. Now, it’s completely revolutionised into an online second-hand shop – one which previous Depop users seem to have reverted to as a protest against what Depop has now become – insanely pricey. 

Then, came Vinted. Vinted seems to be the halfway house between eBay, with its low prices, and Depop with its similar app layout. As an avid second-hand shopper, I was surprised to only discover Vinted fairly recently. 

Photo: Kimberly Stevens @Pixabay

Funnily enough, it was TikTok’s Vinted hauls that persuaded me to download this new app which everyone was raving about. TikTokers would show off £5 deadstock 90s tops, £10 Moschino jeans, and an array of those Penny Lane-inspired afghan coats for less than £40 (which would be unheard of on Depop!).

Similar to Etsy, Vinted also acts as a platform for independent makers and artists to sell their creations. I’ve seen custom crochet sweater vests, personalised chunky beaded chokers, and, the new obsession, hand screen-printed graphic tops.

When our days were plagued with monotonous routine and a lack of newness, seeing a little package at your door every so often brought about a break from the mundane.

For a short moment, you had something new in your life (although, ironically, pre-worn). Something to look forward to, to imagine wearing when the world opened up again, to break up the time between Zoom meetings and daily walks. 

Photo: Sparklingdawg @ Wikipedia Commons

Now that actual second-hand shops are open again, I wonder if we will still romanticise the convenience and quickness of using filters to set your size, budget, and style when we next find ourselves rummaging for hours through heaps of fabric with questionable stains until you find that one perfect piece.

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