Is Depop the future of fashion?

Love it, hate it, or simply can’t be bothered with it – there’s no denying that Depop is a key player in the fashion world, and not an app to be overlooked. But does Depop have an expiry date? And is it building a sustainable community, or simply encouraging unnecessary  purchases? 

Founded in 2011, Depop has risen from a niche start up to a common name in fashion circles. Four years ago, I was intrigued to hear a friend explain the concept to the eBay-Instagram hybrid that allows pretty much anyone to sell pretty much anything (although predominately fashion) as well as interact with sellers and buyers alike. Now, I don’t even bat an eyelid when my friends inform me of their latest Depop bargains, and it’s my first point of call in a crisis. The question is, what’s next for the fashion giant? And how is it changing fashion? 

Sustainability, it seems, is the current buzzword in fashion, with consumers and designers thinking beyond cute outfits, considering real issues like ethical labour and renewable energy resources. Many of us are thinking twice before impulsively buying a high street item and it seems that Depop provides an eco-friendly alternative. Waste clothes can be given a second life. Bought a top that you’ve never been able to pull off? Sell it on. Bought some jeans in the wrong size? Post them too. Re-using garments has never been easier, and making profit from your old clothes is as simple as two of three photos, one short description and a healthy WiFi connection. 

One man’s loss is another man’s gain, as they say, and Depop thrives off this principle. Take, for example, a ball dress I found a few months back. Brand new, with tags, worth £60. Off Depop, it cost £17. An absolute bargain! A complete win. The only question is, does the super cheap price encourage consumers to purchase clothes they don’t need, don’t particularly like, and will probably throw away anyway? And does the possibility of convenient, fast reselling encourage us to make rash buying decisions?

It’s ridiculous to think that we’re always going to make the best buying decisions, and there’ll be times when even the most savvy of us invest in a pair of trousers that, to be frank, are three sizes too small. By filtering searches based on keywords or item categories, Depop encourages hunting for specific products – in fact, most buyers rarely simply ‘browse’. Of course, buying online always leads to a few fit issues. And occasionally sellers are a little generous in their descriptions. But, overall, the online car boot sale vibe gets a thumbs up from me.

Let’s not forget the professional side of Depop, though. By professional, what I really mean is, sellers that have made a hobby into a full-time job. There’s numerous accounts dedicated to selling items such as funky vintage pieces, or handmade bandeau tops. These Depop entrepreneurs are changing the fashion industry one glittering halterneck at a time. With Topshop, you bought a fancy top and saw at least seven other people wearing it on a night out. On Depop, you can buy something totally unique, or so rare it may as well be. I love that vintage shopping can be done from the comfort of my bedroom, and it amazes me how these accounts manage to find so many cute retro jumpers. But it’s the etsy-style handmade clothes that really excite me. It is so encouraging to see people buying and selling their own unique designs,  promoting individuality and creativity. Depop has evolved to become more than just an online second-hand sale, and has instead become the home of unique, start-up brands. What’s not to love?

Good question. The answer, unfortunately, is fairly obvious. Depop takes 10% of sellers money, including that spent on postage. Well, we knew there’d be a catch. It doesn’t seem like a lot until you factor in the actual fees associated with shipping your old jeans across the country, and the time and energy spent negotiating price, packaging the garment and trekking to your local post office. Suddenly, it’s less appealing to sell old tops that’ll probably cost more to post than they’re even worth.

That said, I don’t think Depop is on it’s way out. In fact, I think (and hope) it’s here to stay. Yes, I’d like to see reduced fees on low price items. And of course, Depop, for all its joys, cannot replace the joy of hunting in a vintage market, or stumbling across a bargain pair of jeans in the perfect size. But it does provide a low-risk platform for up-and-coming designers. And it’s got more than it’s fair share of bargains. And, best of all, it also encourages a re-use and re-cycle philosophy. Depop, I’m sold. 

Lydia Varney

Image: Depop