Since vintage 70s, 90s, and 2000s looks have come back into style over the past couple years, the clothing app Depop, which lets users buy and sell their new and used clothes, has blown up as a hub for unique items that cannot be found anywhere else. However, what once began as a way for individuals to resell their old clothing or for new designers to market their original pieces has now transitioned into a comprehensive marketplace of users thrifting clothing and reselling them for quadruple the price. Based on the higher demand for vintage clothing items, thrifting has been the primary method for fashion-forward people to enhance their wardrobes, and those who don’t have access to prime thrift stores turn to Depop for thrifted items. The problem lies in the ethics of reselling items that were originally donated for lower-income individuals and are now generating sizable incomes for privileged individuals through Depop.
All over TikTok, I have seen people share their “thrift hauls,” displaying dozens of incredible pieces that typically cost them under $50 total. While some choose to keep the items for themselves, others take the $3 baby tee and resell it on Depop for $40, creating widespread irritation in their comment sections, with people calling them out for abusing thrift stores and profiting off of discount stores designed for those who cannot afford anything else. Thrifting in bulk can subsequently raise the price points of clothing in thrift stores, disproportionately affecting people who rely on these stores for all of their clothing, rather than simply shop there to resell the items.
On the other hand, some have defended Depop resellers, saying that there is an abundance of clothing in thrift stores, with thousands of new items being donated each week, and those who buy and sell are making no dent whatsoever in the amount of clothes available in these shops. In addition, there is some level of work that goes into sorting through the entire thrift store to find unique pieces that could be resold, in addition to washing the clothes, listing them on Depop, and shipping them to the buyer.
My primary grievance with Depop resellers concerns those who purchase children’s clothing and market it as “vintage, Y2K, cropped, and mini,” selling these items for absurd prices with no label in the chance that someone will buy it without realizing that it is actually a child’s item that was most likely purchased for a dollar. While there is merit in scouting out genuine vintage items in thrift stores and reselling them for the market price, considering the fact that they were probably massively underpriced for their value in thrift stores, reselling cheap items and marketing children’s clothing to young adults is simply unacceptable and gives a bad reputation to all Depop sellers.