In the last few years, users on the clothing marketplace Depop have surged to 18 million worldwide. The majority of those users are located in the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy. The platform, which mimics the visual and user-friendly quality of Instagram, makes scrolling a seamless journey - and highly addictive. The application is especially popular for Millennials and Gen Z-ers, and with good reason; it caters to this particular demographic’s love for sustainable, affordable, and fashionable one-of-a-kind garments. Sellers can be seen curating beautifully designed feeds, offering discounts if you bundle your purchase (buy more than a certain number of items from the same seller), and some even turn into influencers. Earning popularity on Depop is akin to gaining followers on a social media app, and many have landed multi-platform fame by looping in their Instagrams and Youtube channels. While there is much to be appreciated about a space that makes clothes shopping a completely revolutionized experience - especially in the age of quarantine, where online shopping IS the new shopping - it is worth noting that not all aspects are glamorous. I have a few bones to pick about the differences in thrift versus vintage, the thrifted aesthetic, and the types of sellers on Depop.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the very important distinction between thrift and vintage. The rise of thrift shopping has conflated the meanings of the two to equate both as synonyms for ‘secondhand’. They are in fact all separate things. True vintage is rarely thrifty, and thrift is not always vintage. Vintage clothing can include clothes from high-fashion brands, period pieces, or a grandmother’s old sweaters. However, there is a certain aged timeline associated with it. In my opinion we shouldn’t think of clothing from the early 2000s to be vintage, but the term is used quite loosely on Depop; again, when they intend to mean secondhand clothing instead.
Thrifted clothing refers to clothing that you could find in a Goodwill or Salvation Army, for example. In these stores they are pieces that have been donated, gathered, and distributed for an exceedingly lower cost, and at its origins, aim to provide for those that fall under the lower-income bracket. The concept of thrift shopping as being cool, is a relatively recently constructed idea. While sustainability is essential, thrifted clothing has become a type of twisted aesthetic. The underbelly of this trend, is the fact that all clothes are symbols whether we intend for them to be or not. With that said, the thrifted look carries a level of clout to it, and the look is very, very specifically intended to read as thrifted. To clarify, not all thrift or vintage shoppers purchase in this way. However, there is a particular type of thrifted clothing that I am talking about. This means a lot of oversized print tees or oversized jeans, but the point is to show to others that A) you value sustainability, and B) that you can afford to spend a lot of time sorting through racks to find the right-looking clothes. And both of those are ‘cool’.
On top of that, at times Depop sellers frustratingly abuse this trend. There are countless accounts, typically run by young and white sellers, that take these thrifted finds, and resell them for 25$ a t-shirt on average. Some other offenders will take previously owned work shirts they find, like Fedex polos or Jiffy Lube jackets. This brings us back to the cost aspect of it; if you were able to find that piece, you probably paid a higher price than its actual value, just to be seen wearing it. Needless to say, but the idea of intentionally appearing working class, or below your actual means, should not be a ‘kewl lewk’. However, even high fashion brands are following along. Take the Balenciaga 2021 Resort Collection, for example. My favorite comment on the photo below, pulled from the Vogue Hommes Instagram page, is “The last photograph looks like a trust funder college student from 1997”. I think the image speaks for itself, considering this look probably costs more than a month’s worth of NYC rent.
Anyways, I digress. Thankfully, there is a wide range of prices and types of sellers on the platform. You can actually find really cheap clothing for 2-10$, or get some vintage Versace jeans for $600 too. Generally, most of the popular items on Depop fall under these categories: thrifted clothing (not always thrifty prices, as I mentioned), true vintage clothing, up-cycled clothing (thrifted clothes that have been altered, painted on, or otherwise repurposed), small designers/handmade clothing, and jewelry/accessories (a lot of which are also handmade). There are true gems on this platform, both from incredibly nice sellers to stunning clothing finds. Moreover, most people generally understand and practice the notion that you can shop both sustainably and ethically. The popularity of secondhand clothing, and the culture that goes along with it, will hopefully continue to dismantle the destructive fast-fashion clothing brands we are tired of seeing. Not only can we make strides to help preserve the environment, but we can take a stand against slavery, prison labor, and child labor.
So I’ll leave you with a few tips, as an avid thrifter and vintage shopper myself, if you haven’t already started exploring the shops on Depop. First, if you are looking for actual vintage pieces, I suggest taking a look at Poshmark, another similar application. The demographic on there tends to be older, which means better vintage, and there is less emphasis on glitz, popularity contests, and high prices. I think of it as an equivalent to a flea market; you can also negotiate prices, which is not as easy to do on Depop.
Next, if you find a seller’s account you love on Depop, say, if they have a style you like or a lot of pieces you are interested in, I recommend going onto their profile and seeing what items they have liked. Chances are, it will be tons of other accounts that follow the same idea, and some sellers even make conveniently sorted collections separated by item type or style.
Finally, here is a list of personal favorites to check out.
Happy shopping🛒🤑! :