Whether they’re building a business from their bedroom on Depop, or clearing out their closet on ThredUp, online is currently trending for trendy, sustainable traders. (Image source: She Codes)

By Lara Pacillo | @LaraPacillo

At 22 years old, Effie works full time as the business owner of second-hand clothes retailer Dirtworld. Effie sells clothes around the globe ranging from y2k leather coats to satin maxi skirts, all from a loungeroom in North Adelaide.

Effie is a part of a generation redefining the second-hand fashion industry using Depop.

Depop is a social shopping app where 90 per cent of its 18 million users are under the age of 25. If eBay and Instagram had a baby, it would be Depop. The app is set out like Instagram; users have a profile that functions as a store front and a grid of images of their items. Users can follow stores, scroll feeds and explore other shops. The eBay part is that all items are for sale.

Depop is not the only platform in the fashion marketplace. There is eBay, Vinted, ThredUp, Etsy and Poshmark to name a few online stores feeding into the growing population of sustainable shoppers.

What was once only found in thrift stores or grandma’s closet, second-hand clothes are now being traded online, providing not only easy access to resale shopping, but the opportunity for anyone anywhere to make money from their bedroom.

Depop, in particular, targets Generation Z. An article by The Conversation explains it feeds into Gen Z’s zeitgeist of an upbringing on social networks. Depop combines Gen Z’s desire to express their individual identity with their ethical considerations of consumption.

Users have the freedom to develop a unique style, establish values, and, with hard work, build a legitimate business all from their smartphones. In Australia, one in four people aged 15 to 29 use Depop.

Effie said reselling is about what you put in.

Dirtworld on Depop (Image source: Depop/Dirtworld)

“I started casually selling in November of 2019. I remember the first item I sold was a pink tennis skirt and I was so stoked,” they said.

“At the time, I was working two other retail jobs and an arts job, so I couldn’t give my shop the time it needed to flourish. In January of this year, I decided to rebrand my shop and really direct my focus there.”

Dirtworld is now their full-time job which they dedicate five days a week to. As of July this year, they have had over 650 sales and have over 6,000 followers on Depop.

Online avenues provide the opportunity to break away from the fast fashion trends that often clutter brick and mortar malls, and create a more fluid view of ownership.

Effie sources their items from a wide range of places including thrift stores, garage sales, international vintage wholesalers and estate sales.

Individual Depop shops develop their own niches, whether it be 70s, y2k, boho, or all three. Effie said Dirtworld’s style mostly fits the 1990s to 2000s decades but includes a wide variety of other subculture styles too.

“I am in love with subcultures such as fairycore, grunge, mall goth, skater, cottagecore, witchy, hippy and much more,” they said.

Depop user and vintage fashion hauler Tiana Colangelo said it’s the attainability of the unattainable that she likes most about the app.

“I love how you can find versatile one-off pieces,” she said.

“I’m a sucker for one-off pieces that no one else has, so it’s always fun to wear something different. I also find a lot of my vintage designer pieces on the app.”

Tiana buys second-hand, resells, trades, and hires, and in doing so she supports the circular economy.

Online platforms do this too.

“Depop is affordable and it’s trending with what people are currently into which is vintage shopping,” she said.

“Fashion is like a revolving door; trends that were stylish 10 years always come back into fashion.”

She said vintage shopping is hard not to love.

“I feel like every piece has a story and everyone wears pieces to suit their own fashion, and let’s not forget, it’s nice to know that you’re doing something good for the environment too.”

And it is good for the environment, unlike fast fashion. In today’s world, it is common for people to discard new clothes they’ve never worn or have worn once, and the environmental effect of mindless disposal is being felt.

According to The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. The environmental harm stretches from mass production to mass disposal.

The UNEP states textile dying is the second largest water polluter in the world. It takes more water to produce a pair of jeans than a person drinks in 10 years. The fashion industry produces more carbon imitations than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The list of environmental harm goes on.

Wastewater from a factory pumped into a street of Cairo’s Ain el-Sirra district (Image source: Independent)
 

Second-hand shopping takes a slow fashion perspective, placing value on each individual item. Effie said sustainability is at the heart of reselling.

“I am very passionate about reducing textile waste,” they said.

“Shopping second-hand, preloved, upcycled or vintage clothing plays a huge part in reducing the amount that ends up in landfill. In Australia we currently send 85 per cent of clothing that we purchase to landfill each year.  

“The amount of clothing that is being manufactured to keep up with our high needs has huge environmental and social impacts. As consumers, making choices that reduce consumption and shopping second-hand where possible can make a big difference.”

Just like any business, a lot goes on behind the scenes when running a Depop shop and building an item’s appeal, from repairing and shooting, to packaging and shipping. However, the rewards can be significant.

Effie’s favourite user and the United States’ top Depop seller Bella McFadden, also known as Internet Girl, is living proof.

According to The Cut, she dropped out of college to move to Los Angeles and devote herself to Internet Girl full time. She now has a following of 379,000 on Depop and a six-figure income.

The online reselling domain can be daunting for beginners. Effie has a few tips to make it less so. “Start small, possibly with items that you already have in your wardrobe that you’re wanting to sell,” they said.

“You definitely don’t need a fancy shooting set up. Just make sure your photos are well lit —natural lighting is best — and the background is free of clutter.

“Even using an old bed sheet taped to the wall for a background can go a long way.”

“Make sure you’re using relevant hashtags and including lots of detail in your descriptions. When pricing your item, look at other similar items on the app, make sure you’re factoring in sourcing costs and the 10 per cent fee that Depop takes on each sale too.”

Whether you’re building a business from your bedroom on Depop, or clearing out your closet on ThredUp, online is currently trending for trendy, sustainable traders.