Depop has fastly become the most popular clothing resale app for the younger generation thanks to it incorporating streetwear and vintage items with the current trends. They, somewhat pretentiously, label themselves as “the fashion marketplace app where the next generation comes to discover unique items”.
Whilst it’s true that Depop initially started off as a platform for people to buy second-hand clothes for cheaper prices, this intention has been lost along the way. Wholesalers and greedy entrepreneurs have manipulated the app to sell items of clothing for three times their original price.
It’s easy to see the temptation in such a quick business scheme, considering the capitalistic values that consume and surround us – who wouldn’t want to make £100 just by clicking a few buttons?
In the past 5 or so years, many Depop sellers have found their ground by visiting their local charity shops, or having a nifty skill on eBay, in order to sell (mostly vintage) items for a large profit. There is so much demand for this in the current trends that sellers have, in some cases, been able to upload and sell 20+ items every day.
Besides the obvious issues of selfish profiteering, these commerces lead to a shortage of clothes in shops that are intended for people who are not as well off and has simultaneously led to the gentrification of charity shops. The profiteers in question are usually much more fortunate and have a lesser need for low-priced streetwear, which to them is just the current trend, rather than a necessity or a lifestyle.
What’s even more frustrating is seeing Brandy Melville tops that have an RRP of £18 being sold for £60, just because they’re brown and have a lettuce hem. This adds to the illusion that these items are rare and that this is standard for dressing according to the norms.
A more concerning issue is how Depop allows drop-shipping and a cycle of fast fashion, especially considering the increase of resales of fast fashion e-commerce items from sites like Aliexpress and Shein.
Drop-shipping is when sellers list items for sale and send them straight to buyers from a cheaper website, without even having to handle them. Aliexpress and Shein make a lot of their money from this process, as their business model requires quick and frequent purchases.
They are known for replicating both big brands’ designs, and also independent designers and small businesses. They manufacture low-quality replicas of the originals, and they advertise with stolen images and small prices.
A sad example of a small brand’s design being ripped off is Fruity Booty, a boutique underwear shop, whose signature orange gingham vest top worth £60 was replicated and sold for £5 on Aliexpress, with their pictures also being used without permission.
The co-owners of the company expressed that they “are a small business and have very little power. At one level it is flattering to be copied, but it is also devastating given it undermines both our creativity and what we stand for as a brand.”
The forgery has gone so far that you can literally upload a picture of any item of clothing you like the look of, and a designer on Aliexpress will contact you with an offer to make it.
Not only is this harmful to small businesses, who work hard to produce high quality, unique designs with sustainable materials; but it also contributes to fast fashion where people buy clothes only to wear them a few times and throw them away when the trend dies out, which is hugely harmful to the environment.
It’s safe to assume that when a jacket costs £8, it’s probably made with cheap materials and in an unsustainable environment.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to prevent drop-shipping like this from happening at the root. Depop however, despite banning drop-shipping in 2020, haven’t actively shown that they’re taking the extra precautions to remove it from their platform.
All of these issues prove that Depop is guilty of reflecting the capitalistic motivations of our society. Resale apps have become yet another capitalised space where people’s only concern is making the most profit, regardless of the ethical and environmental effects it may have.