top of page
  • Writer's pictureLippy

Shopping Second-Hand Online: A Guide to Selling and Buying on Depop

By Evie McCarthy and Anna-Karina Yuill

Artwork by Savanna Marija Ruffini Sutic

If you haven’t heard of it by now, Depop is the hugely popular online marketplace on which some 15 million users come to buy and sell pre-loved clothing and products. With its easy to use layout reminiscent of Instagram, and more information surrounding the detrimental environmental and human impacts of fast fashion coming to light young people have flocked to the app, where around 90% of users are under the age of 26. 

A part of this popularity can be attributed to the massive surge in the second-hand clothing market- a cheaper way for consumers to shop more ethically. According to GlobalData, this market was valued at $24 billion in the US in 2018 and is only set to grow. For many, Depop is the easiest way to build a more sustainable wardrobe. Having everything in one place on your phone is ideal for those without the time privilege of browsing through charity shops; and with the app accessible from just about anywhere with an Internet connection, it is perfect for those who are stuck at home facing lockdown. 

Just because something is pre-owned, it doesn’t always imply a lack of quality. Many items for sale are new or hardly worn, so it can be easy to find clothes which are just as on trend as fast fashion, and for a better price. Vintage stores have also taken to Depop, which is perfect for vintage fashion lovers mourning the loss of kilo sales due to the pandemic. At just the click of a button, there has never been an easier way to shop ethically.

In addition, as a second-hand fashion platform, Depop not only caters to buyers, but sellers too! In becoming a Depop seller you can find a new home for clothes that you no longer use or want as well as earning some money and contributing to a more sustainable method of shopping. We interviewed @celiapops about her Depop brand and how she’s able to be eco-friendly in her selling.

How would you describe your Depop brand?

Our style is definitely very eclectic. We can be selling baggy skater jeans and a crop top one day and a 70’s maxi dress the next. Our main love is early 00’s and late 90’s fashion, so you’ll see a lot of pieces in that style on our page!

What about the way you operate your Depop brand makes you a sustainable seller?

Almost all of our stock is 2nd hand sourced from a huge variety of places. We are about to start using Mule, a totally carbon neutral postal service as well which we’re super excited about! Where do you source your inventory from?

We source from a number of places. I think there’s often a misconception that Depop sellers just have one set supplier, but we are always looking for new sources. Lots of it is designer vintage from Italy. We also recently got a load of deadstock pieces from a UK factory that used to make samples in the early 00s.  Why is it important to you to be a sustainable and eco-friendly seller?

80 billion new garments are currently purchased every year. If fast fashion continues at this rate, the industry will account for 26% of the global carbon budget by 2050. To have a platform where sellers can make even a portion of the second hand out there more accessible to consumers is a great thing. What tips would you give an aspiring Depop seller in running a successful Depop brand?

Posting consistently is key! Uploading items every day means that you are always popping up on your followers’ feeds daily, so they know they can expect to see fresh items from you always.

Some other useful tips for sellers are to ensure that you upload high quality pictures of the items you are listing, preferably of them being worn and styled in order to draw the most attention. Always be honest about the quality and condition of clothes you are selling and be helpful and polite to potential buyers when they message you. These tips will contribute to earning you high ratings from buyers, thus establishing you as a reliable and recommended seller.  Finally, don’t be afraid to promote your Depop on social media platforms such as Instagram, where you can utilise the following you’ve already grown to gain some business!

Unfortunately, with Depop being such a widely used site, not everything can be as sustainable as it seems. Many sellers buy wholesale from unethical third-party sites such as Shein or AliExpress to sell for highly marked up prices, often up to 3 times the original cost; this is known as drop-shipping. This is done without stating the origin, which allows the seller to capitalise on the buyer market of conscious consumers, when in fact they are not sustainable or ethical at all. 

This has been noticed by sellers @kazklothes and @amypennyxoxo, who have joined together in creating a petition calling for an end to this practice. Although with the former stating that Depop deleted their post raising awareness of this, it seems unlikely that there will be much change, leaving it up to buyers to avoid these products. Clothes like these can be hard to spot, but some ways to tell if an item was drop-shipped can be to see if there is a high quantity of a certain item, no brand name given and if the seller has a lot of items on their page similarly listed.

Another difficulty can be the sheer volume of items available. With so many clothes to look through, finding the perfect item can be overwhelming. Some ways to deal with this include making use of the search filters. If searching for a specific item, there is the option to filter down to certain brands, sizes, styles and more. This can be great for if you see something you like from a fast fashion store, as by using these filters and searching for it on Depop, it can often be found second-hand, in great condition and much cheaper! 

Depop as an online marketplace has undoubtedly revolutionised and revitalised the second-hand shopping market. Although it is important to exercise caution when it comes to drop-shipping and other unethical practices, Depop has changed the game in accessibility for sustainable fashion lovers of all kinds. By benefitting both the seller and buyer, it provides an eco-friendly and affordable way to build your perfect wardrobe!