2020 has seen a rise in e-commerce retail sales like never before. There has been a global increase of 18.4%, more than 4 times the expected figure, and in the UK alone, at the height of our national lockdown in May, a third of all retail sales were made online. Inevitably, this gives rise to fashion marketplace apps like Depop. A platform which describes itself as the place where ‘the next generation come to discover unique items’. With 21 million global users, and a third of these between the ages of 18-25, it seems they’re not wrong. 

The question is, does the app provide generation z with their slow, sustainable fashion dream, or does it hide inside itself, an underbelly of something not so ethical? 

Part one: The Ugly (and downright odd)

Most of us probably know the infamously funny instagram account @depopdrama, which boasts over half a million followers. Depop users send in screenshots of their often not only dramatic, but at times quite frankly odd, back-and-forth interactions between themselves and other users; buyers or sellers.

For me, @depopdrama represents the entirely un-edited and un-self aware, corner of the internet where Depop takes up space. Unlike other apps where the content is entirely thought-out, messages on Depop are unrestrained and at times too honest. I guess sometimes humans really do just want that top, and they want it now… and for free. 

As people become more environmentally conscious, the slow and sustainable vintage clothing like that available on Depop, has become increasingly popular. Depop represents a movement that amasses such demand, and simultaneously advocates against fast fashion companies with unethical practices. Of course, this means the platform is bound to come under fire for being even slightly hypocritical, and that it does. 

Enter: the Ugly. Charity shops’ ever rising price points, inflated prices for so-called ‘vintage’ or ‘rare’ items and the termite-like quality of unethically sourced and manufactured clothing that manages to seep its way into what should be a second-hand clothing marketplace app. Seeing things from this point of view, Depop is a platform that has fed into the gentrification of sustainable living, in turn making it more difficult for people who identify as working class to acquire cheap, and ethically made, clothing. 

Part 2: The Bad (how to spot it, and the alternatives)

I’ve put together a short but sweet infographic that outlines how to spot, and avoid, the Depop sellers who sell clothes that are far from sustainable.

If you decide Depop isn’t the marketplace app for you, there are alternatives. To name a few; Vinted, Asos Marketplace, eBay, local clothes swapping apps and By Rotation.

Part 3: The Good (and very good)

It’s not all bad, in fact, for an app with so much popularity (and infamy), Depop does well to maintain a good level of positive vibes. 

It’s time efficient, saving you hours of your day scouring charity shops for gems. You can search whatever your heart desires, and miraculously, you’ll probably find exactly what you are looking for. Especially in times of lockdown, which is now our new normal, it’s a great way to get your sustainable fashion fix, all without exposing yourself to a deadly virus.

The Very Good: inclusivity. Many people make their own fortune selling on Depop. It’s a platform that champions the autonomy of owning your own business and making your own money, especially for people who may not find regular work as accessible to them, like the disabled. 

The second Very Good: sustainability. Any business which seeks to help care for our environment and keep waste down, like Depop does, should be in our collective good book as a people. Many Depop sellers repurpose items by upcycling them or even make handmade items from deadstock fabrics. It’s an online space which encourages innovation. 

A popular seller on the app, @ghostsoda, does a good job responding to common criticisms people have, linked here.

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