Over the past two decades, with rapidly advancing technology, the fashion industry has evolved and the increased market for fast production clothing has led to global environmental devastation. One of Gen Z’s answers to the textile waste and carbon emissions caused by said trade, is virtual second-hand fashion platforms like Depop. The growth of this resale market has led to the rise of the Depop Seller. The Depop Seller can be forward thinking and business savvy, reselling vintage items for several times the amount they originally paid. However, the ethics of the sustainable Depop Seller and eco-friendly consumer are queried by the discourse that Depop has undergone gentrification.
The criticism lies in the reality that sustainable clothing should be for everybody, not just those with an interest in fashion. By profiting from low priced charity shop items, the Depop seller is potentially taking away the opportunity for low-income consumers to shop sustainably. By way of explanation, there will be less items available in charity shops resulting in low-income shoppers taking their business to cheap fast fashion corporations instead. A further concern creeping its way into the discussion, is that charity shops may also begin raising their prices to compete with these online second-hand markets.
The Depop Seller has also been branded a ‘scammer’, specifically when their business models are shared on TikTok and YouTube. Some second-hand shoppers see the bulk buying of low priced items and reselling for an extreme profit as the exact definition of gentrification. This is because the Depop Seller is promoting a practise, most comely exercised in low-income communities, to the wider population and in turn excluding those who need it most.
In spite of this, the Depop Seller contends that the price of vintage garments are reflective of the time spent locating and photographing the item, delivery costs and Depop fees. The platform also acts as a source of income and business starter for many young people and does encourage environmentally responsible fashion choices. The sustainable fashion market is also predicted to be worth $64 billion as of 2024. This is more than double its worth in 2019. Gentrified or not, second hand clothing markets like Depop are playing a huge role in the steady decline of fast fashion which, regardless of the gentrification discussion, is a positive. It is still necessary that these discussions be had and viewpoints be heard in order for some Depop users to recognise their privilege and become the most ethical and sustainable consumers and sellers they can be.