Claire Rausser

Sustainable Fashion: Depop Edition

This blog is an updated take on the review I wrote for Depop in the Piano Recital Magazine.

One user’s experience with the Depop app

This blog was an updated take on the review I wrote for Depop in the Piano Recital Magazine.

I joined Depop probably around two years ago.

For some reason, despite how much I love appreciating the way people decide to style themselves, I find it somewhat uncomfortable to ask others where they got certain pieces of clothing because I hate the idea that this causes them to think I’m trying to copy their style. When I think more about it, it’s a pretty stupid reason to not compliment someone.

When I found out about Depop, I actually had to go back to ask my housemate (who had recommended it to me) a second time to clarify — it was an app and not a typical fast-fashion hosting website. This totally blew my mind because I hadn’t ever heard of anything like that before. At this point in time it made sense since there were already apps like Poshmark and Etsy.

Upon further inspection, I found that making an account was really simple and listing items was very intuitive and easy. I really enjoyed using the app the year I made it — I organized, took photos, and listed everything I no longer wanted to wear. I made a bunch of sales, and it was fun to imagine I was in charge of my own business when I got to ship out items in the mail.

There are some downsides.

The longer I used the app, however, the more problematic it became. I noticed that if I searched for “high waisted straight leg pant”, which as you will note is quite specific, I would get a return search of someone’s entire shop which exclusively sells handmade jewelry. Other sellers used and abused the keyword and tagging system, which meant the search algorithm was compromised, and nothing meant anything anymore. This included a problem with misbranding an item, and the sellers even acknowledged that they were misleading buyers by saying, “Branded Brandy Melville for exposure!” Depop did offer a workaround, which just meant that I had to filter items so I could only see items in the “pants” category, and likewise search by sizes, prices, and brands. So that was annoying…

But that wasn’t even the worst part. Sellers began to engage in a deceptive practice called “dropshipping” (you’ve probably seen people teaching this and showing off their earnings), which is where they will find a product they want to sell from AliExpress, grab the details and inflate the price by five or even six fold. They casually noted in the description that shipping would take two to four weeks, neglecting to admit that this was because it would be arriving in a shipping container transported via an ocean liner directly from China.

After some time, people from the Depop subreddit noted that the app developers had heard the complaints and made adjustments to the app, and since then it’s been more enjoyable to surf. There are still a lot of the same issues with tagging and the app’s content is still mega saturated. But there are fun functions from the update: you can like someone’s item which goes into your likes, where all of your favourite styles are collected publicly, so anyone can see these. This is particularly useful if you find inspiration from someone with similar styles to yours, and public liked collections can also help the original sellers publicize their items. Purchasing an item is simple because your PayPal account is directly linked, and it’s generally easy to reach out to sellers to try to haggle or “adjust the price”, ask about bundle discounts, or request they hold an item for you.

But the positives outweigh the negatives.

The app’s features aside, Depop (and Poshmark and ThreadUp for that matter), provide an excellent space and opportunity for people to uphold the values of sustainable fashion practices. You can literally reduce, reuse, and recycle (or upcycle) items on these platforms. This is particularly meaningful to me, as someone who has obsessively shopped fast fashion brands in the past, I can wholeheartedly appreciate being able to 1) make some money back from my items, 2) help someone else avoid shopping fast fashion, 3) support others while finding items that are unique and fit my individual style. To be fair, there’s probably like five other reasons the app provides a great space for resellers and sustainably minded people, but these are the top benefits in my mind.

Think about it: there are companies like Burberry that actually burn their overstocked clothing when the season ends so as to avoid people getting their hands on it ~ because the brand’s status mustn’t be tarnished by being associated with a sale ~. You can read more about that in an article by Vox. This is a disgusting practice that actually spits in the face of the overworked and underpaid, often underage as well, workers who made these articles of clothing in third world countries. You’ll see this practice in a lot of chain companies like Paris Baguette and Starbucks do this with their expired pastries and coffee.

Back to basics.

All articles of clothing have a story and a past, and your ability to appreciate something and give it a second (or even third) chance is a step towards minimizing the production and consumption of unnecessary and wasteful items in the fashion industry. The way I look at it, these products are already out here — why not take a chance with something sturdy and reliable (it’s made it this far) that may represent a style from over 20 years ago?

What else does the fashion industry really have to put out there to get people to lose their minds enough to support unhealthy and dangerous working situations for children and adults alike in third world countries? People really seem to easily forget or intentionally ignore inhumanity when it’s convenient for them. To be fair though, it’s easy to forget when we live in a country like this.

just someone who cares a little about the sustainability of our inhabitance on this planet.