From age six to nine, my younger sister and I donned our self-inflicted uniform of cotton Tea dresses. They were loud: paisley prints and colorful necklines that made us feel ready to tackle those arduous and oh-so-stressful days of junior school. But when middle school hit, I decided that those dresses were out and a new, fashionable, middle school me was in.
But there was one problem: I hated shopping. Time seemed to drag on as I aimlessly scanned isles upon isles illuminated by fluorescents. Everything I tried on was either too tight or too loose, too drab or too in-your-face. I found it impossible to discover anything that felt like me, and often opted for the items that everyone in school was wearing when plagued by too much choice. Only to find that, a month or two later, that the trend or item was no longer “cool” and it was back to the clothes hangers and warped dressing room mirrors. Those fluorescent lights drew me in like a moth to a flame and, soon, made me feel like I was on an inescapable factory conveyor belt, entering and repeating the fast fashion cycle and spitting out a replica of everyone else I saw.
This attitude continued into high school: I wore the same five t-shirts and two pairs of black leggings every day and didn’t ever feel truly comfortable or like myself.
At the start of senior year is when one of my friends told me about Depop, an app founded in 2011 similar to eBay but that almost exclusively carries clothes. It immediately appealed to me; it’s blood red logo popped on my home screen and the layout made it almost too easy to find what I wanted. I discovered that I could mine hashtags and filter by size. I followed my favorite users, many of whom share that their Depop shop is their first business: their scrappy entrepreneurship evident in the makeshift bed sheet backdrops. I fell in love with Depop because I can support small businesses (most of whom are around my age), contribute to a more eco-friendly industry by abstaining from fast-fashion, all while being able to dress how I‘d like within a budget that adheres to my weekly allowance. Depop felt revolutionary to me, and I was far from the only one to notice.
Depop seems to fight against the notion that thrifting only yields smelly, old, or stained clothing by encouraging a modern mindset around the activity geared towards younger generations. According to Depop, 90 percent of its over 15 million active users are under 26. Moreover, in a poll of more than 100 teens conducted in 2019 by The Strategist, Depop was voted the favorite resale platform. Many sellers also tout that they use eco-friendly packaging to ship their orders, a concept that encourages those who are trying their best to protect the environment to support these sellers. The layout of the app and the fact that most sellers are also young like most users creates a sense of community, something noticeably missing when shopping from online retail stores.
Depop has played a large part in making thrifting “trendy,” widely accepted, and even encouraged by my generation. When someone can say that they thrifted an outfit, it immediately ups the perceived value of the outfit: it’s more hard-earned, likely one-of-a-kind, and demonstrates that that person knows themselves enough to portray themselves as they would like to be seen on the outside. Though Depop makes finding your style easier, it cannot find clothes for you. A user should go into the hunt with a vision of an outfit or an item they’re looking to emerge with.
On average, 140,000 items are listed on Depop daily, a number that is only projected to grow as more users and sellers join. Because of companies like Depop, the resale market is expected to double in the next five years, a prediction that, if true, would make the industry bigger than the fast fashion industry.
Above all, I love Depop because it encourages individuality. It is the company making “dad” shoes, crochet, and bucket hats sought after and praised. It has enabled me and many others to hop off of that fast fashion conveyor belt and choose to learn more about ourselves through our clothing. Now, the once-enticing glow of the fast fashion fluorescent lights seem to dim, making way for a brighter, greener, and more individualized future of fashion.