Why Depop Culture Might Not Be As Sustainable As We Believe
Is the Depop culture sustainable? Gen Z and Millennials are swapping their clothes more than ever, which is great for sustainability. But at what cost?
Depop. I’m sure most people have used it, right? A marketplace where people can buy and sell second-hand clothes, it’s become renowned for benefiting sellers who wish to get rid of clothes and make profit simultaneously, whilst also benefiting buyers who wish to buy and follow trends cheaply. It’s also environmentally beneficial, as the carbon footprint of buyers is reduced, being a more efficient alternative to fast fashion. Depop has stated that it aims to make fashion “more inclusive, diverse and less wasteful”. And one of the biggest trends on Depop at the moment is Y2k fashion. The entirety of Gen Z seems enamoured with this style — take a look on popular platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, and baguette bags and flared jeans pop up wherever you go.
The Y2k fashion is a fashion style that has risen these past few months inspired by the trends of the 2000s. Involving bright colours, psychedelic prints and bold statement pieces such as fur lining the cuffs of cardigans and rhinestone-embellished tops, it has often been admired for encouraging sustainable fashion as an increasing number of teens and adults in their early twenties shop from charity shops and second-hand shops, as well as from websites such as Depop and Ebay in order to follow the trends of Y2k fashion.
However, some people have begun to address the concept of the ‘gentrification of charity shops’ as teens pillage charity and second-hand shops for fashionable items, leaving behind less-trendy items for those who need these shops for their affordable prices. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the sinking sense of despair when you come to a shop, having walked for what seems like hours, only to find racks empty of anything worth buying... This supposedly leads to more expensive prices in charity shops as demand rises. This is a common practice for many Depop sellers who often bulk-buy clothes from charity shops to make more profit. However, not only do charity shop prices increase, but so do prices on Depop as sellers upsell their items if they are holding onto some hyped pieces.
As prices increase in charity and thrift stores, those who originally shopped there for their cheap prices were forced to buy their clothes from other affordable and readily available sources such as fast fashion brands. This means that although there has been an increase of people buying second-hand, there has also been an increase or shift in the types of people buying fast fashion, which leads us to ponder whether Depop has really led to more sustainable shopping. It seems that this is not the case as, in an effort to satisfy the high demand of shoppers for trendy second-hand clothes, the actions of Depop sellers and teens buying in bulk from charity shops may have led to increased prices in charity shops, pushing those who need affordable clothing towards fast fashion. This creates a cycle that means that Depop culture may have inadvertently possibly caused unsustainable consequences.
Unfortunately, it has also become common for people who buy slow fashion and second-hand clothing to shame others for buying fast fashion, believing that they have the higher moral ground and a sense of superiority due to a smaller carbon footprint. However, if the concept of thrift store gentrification is real, then the culture of Depop, the new trendiness of buying from charity shops and bulk buying may have been the reason some people were forced to buy their clothes through the fast fashion route. Ultimately, would it be hypocritical to shame those who buy from fast fashion if it may have been Depop’s culture of buyers overbuying and sellers bulk-buying that caused prices to increase and this cycle to even begin?
This could be devastating news as you may still indirectly contribute to the fast fashion industry whether you buy from fast fashion or from websites such as Depop. Therefore, the question is what you can do as an individual to buy clothes more sustainably. Buying second hand clothes is still better for the environment than fast fashion, so you shouldn’t necessarily stop buying clothes from Depop.
The answer to solving this problem lies in the idea of only buying clothes when necessary, instead of overbuying or buying slow fashion and second-hand clothes at the same rate as you would buy fast fashion for the sake of following trends. Hence, perhaps we could encourage a culture of buying less or only when needed, otherwise the high demand for clothes will encourage more brands and sellers to produce more clothes or bulk-buy from charity shops.