Many people are attempting to make their wardrobes more sustainable and while some fashion brands are trying to keep up with these demands, Depop, vintage and charity shops are taking over.

Although people may want to shop sustainably, it isn’t always manageable. There are fashion brands who pride themselves on the sustainability of their planning, production and selling processes, however, their items tend to come with a hefty price tag. People may treat themselves to one or two sustainable pieces, but completely replacing their wardrobe with garments from these brands is often financially impossible.

Despite this, having one or two sustainably-made items is better than none and making small changes now will amount to big differences in the future. It’s understandable that most wardrobes are still full of clothing sold by fast fashion brands: fast fashion is undoubtedly more prevalent and more affordable. However their cheaper prices are achieved through the exploitation of their workers.

Matilda Haymes, a 23-year-old avid Depop user who no longer buys new clothes, said: “Shopping sustainably is really important to me. As the textiles industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, and fast fashion is responsible for mass exploitation of predominantly female workers, I don’t want to fund it.”

There are many reasons why people use Depop; many prefer the aesthetic of older clothing, the pricing is more affordable, it’s good for those not wanting to purchase new items and you tend to discover pieces you wouldn’t find on the high street or online.

The rise in popularity of Y2K fashion this summer caused a rise in the demand for vintage items on Depop. In turn, there’s been an increase in the number of users attempting to build a following and run their own vintage Depop shops.

20-year-old Depop user Tererai Maenzanise thinks it’ll become more common for Depop sellers to sell items on for an expensive price to make a profit, as people need the money more than ever due to the Covid-19 and job uncertainty. She says she can see more and more people using it as a new source of income.

Depop sellers visit charity shops or source vintage items, mark up the price and sell them to their customers. Items which fit a current trend or aesthetic come with the most expensive price tags. This expense has not only made it more difficult to dress in line with the latest trends, but it has made buying secondhand clothing less financially advantageous too.

Some people are concerned that charity shop-shoppers won’t have much luck because Depop sellers are always quick to find and purchase the best items to sell themselves. They are profiting from the affordability of charity shops. Otti Dick, the 18-year-old owner of Resurrection Vintage on Depop, said: “I personally treat Depop as my job and I think any Depop verified seller does too.”

She added: “All of us buy items and sell them on for a profit, but most of the time the item that we’re selling is still a lot cheaper than it would be brand new. It also takes a lot of time to source items and make them, which is why I think it’s fine for sellers to make a profit.”

Classism exists within the fashion industry: those with a higher disposable income are able to invest more money into shopping on Depop and shopping sustainably, especially if it allows them to dress according to the latest trends. Those with less money are left with little alternative but to shop with fast fashion brands, as they are far more economically accessible.

During the pandemic, some individuals with a passion to shop sustainably have limited how many new items they’ve bought. Haymes says that normally she’d have bought things for festivals and holidays, but she didn’t see the point in buying loads of new clothes when she couldn’t leave the house.

However, Dick says her sales have significantly increased since lockdown began and she’s sold around 850 items since March. As she hasn’t been at school, she’s had time to look for new stock and be active on her account, which has grown to over 21,000 followers.

Alternatively, some people may have been encouraged to shop on Depop because shops were closed. Lockdown has also been a time for people to learn and evaluate their choices, which has driven many to learn about sustainability in the fashion industry.

18-year-old Rachel Gibson, an avid Depop user from Troon, Scotland, said: “I aim to be sustainable in all aspects of my life and have recently become vegetarian and [am] en route to becom[ing] vegan. I have swapped out so many of my everyday products to either reusable ones or ones with zero waste or no plastic, so to also do the same with my clothes is a must for me.”

She added: “I don’t see why I shouldn’t be sustainable when the options are there, as I believe it’s so important that we look after the planet.”

 

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