• Annie Milton-Dean

From Stale to Stylish: How Depop Changed the Game for Second-Hand

The image of second-hand shopping has changed immensely over the last decade. Before the days of "y2k" and “90’s vintage,” rummaging through car boot sales and trawling around charity shops was seen as anything but trendy. Wearing someone else's clothes carried a stigma and was seen as something you only did if you didn't have another choice. A friend of mine was telling me that when she was younger, she told her friends her item was from a charity shop and they said that someone had probably died in it.

It’s impossible to choose a time when that negative association all changed. We have gone through a huge cultural shift with regards to second-hand clothes shopping here in the UK and now, arguably, buying second-hand is seen as trendier than buying new. This has to be in a large way thanks to Depop who have meticulously made their branding synonymous with a notion of ‘young and cool.’ They have a bold, unique and fashionable look that has the attention of nearly half of all the 16-24-year olds in the UK and that is the furthest thing from the image of unwashed, old people’s clothes. The unmistakable ‘Depop style’ has become a uniform amongst British university students. It’s easy to spot, and can only be replicated through the items sold on the app.

The ‘Spell-out Nike quarter-zip sweatshirts’, the ‘vintage Levi 501’s’, the ‘90’s lettuce hem mesh midi dresses’ come to mind.

Although there are other second-hand shopping platforms in the space, such as Ebay, The Real-Real, Vestiare Collective and Thredup, Depop has carved out their own niche and it is without a doubt at the forefront of our second-hand culture. It’s has risen from a niche Italian/London start-up to now having over 18 million users and around 150,000 new items uploaded every single day.

But how did it achieve this?

Depop as an app is an obvious mix between a shopping experience and a social media page, with features such as the feed, explore page and private messaging reminiscent of Instagram. It also has a simple and user-friendly nature. It takes no time at all to set up a profile and take a picture of the item on your phone. This low barrier to entry has made second-hand shopping just as easy and enjoyable as buying fast fashion. It’s now as low effort as logging into the ASOS app and ordering a top. Ease has previously been one of the main advantages of the traditional shopping route but Depop has become a viable alternative and has redefined the idea of hassle-free second-hand shopping completely.

Beyond ease of use, Depop has now become more than just a resale app, it’s become a community of creatives and unique fashion brands within themselves. You can find many things from hand painted jeans and handcrafted jewellery to prom dresses and vintage designer pieces- something you just cannot find in traditional high-street shops. Not only that but sellers are now making full-time incomes from their Depop shops (with Depop’s first seller to sell over £1 million worth of clothes being announced this year). It's no longer just a platform to clear out your wardrobe (although it's still fantastic for this). You can find and buy unique, "one of a kind" pieces and you know you're not going to walk into a room and be wearing the same top as someone else.

As there’s been a turn away from trends churned out by mainstream shops, Depop has instead allowed for individual users to decide themselves what is trendy.

On top of this, as sustainability is an increasing priority on people’s agenda’s and the unethical and unsustainable nature of fast-fashion is increasingly gaining public attention, this is another way Depop’s mission is complimented. Reflecting the importance that we place on individuality AND environmental awareness, this in essence, is what has propelled second-hand shopping to the mainstream.

The second-hand clothes market is in a current boom of growth and it is even set to overtake the size of the fast-fashion market by 2028. So, there’s never been a better time to jump of the wonderful bandwagon and get involved in the sustainable fashion movement. The change that it’s undergone from stigma to stylish is here to stay. Trendy and environmentally friendly? Who wouldn’t want to take part.

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