Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The cult of student Depop

It’s 2017, I’m at a festival and, naturally, rain is pouring down. Beneath my friend’s transparent poncho – like glass casing flaunting a jewel — I spot the dress. She tells me she bought it from somewhere called Depop, then trots off in search of a stray bassist. Little did I know that she had just given me the password to a thrift-shopping experience that was entirely online. Perfect for the broke and lazy, and by that, I mean practically made for students.

If you’ve not yet had the privilege, Depop is a resale platform emphasising sustainability and community. Users buy and sell items, mostly second-hand clothing, with Instagram-style profiles serving as storefronts. You can source clothes for low prices and shift those you no longer want, all from your bedroom.

Some have found an opportunity to capitalise on the second-hand, bargain searching will of others

All of this makes it absolutely ideal for crafting that elaborate circle costume without sinking into your overdraft. There’s also a strange satisfaction in knowing that by buying her unwanted Doc Martens, you’re probably funding the Friday night of Jen from Sheffield. You can shop safe in the knowledge that as you stomp about in your new boots, beaming, she’ll be stomping about on the dance floor, steaming. It’s a happy, happy place. 

Yet, as more people discover this red and black gem tucked within the app store, some have found an opportunity to capitalise on the second-hand, bargain searching will of others. They go in search of branded items at charity shops, only to advertise them at ten times the price they paid. People have forged businesses out of the demand for Nike or Ralph Lauren sweatshirts, selling them on for £40 or £50 apiece, often more.

Depop is what you make of it 

The contents of the app have undeniably strayed from teenagers flogging their old clothes to one another. Has this spoiled Depop for students? I’m not convinced. After all, part of the enjoyment of thrifting is the browsing, the digging, the waiting game, only adding to the thrill when you finally find a bargain. It’s like gold panning – you have to sift through the mud to be rewarded. When you are, you’ve earned it and can bask in that feeling of smug accomplishment as you only relinquish a tenner to cover your treasure but, of course, time can be hard to come by for students.

Mounting deadlines often don’t leave much room for combing through overpriced listings. This is where filtering comes in. You can select your price range, your size and even the brand, to maximise your chances. In-person thrifting always requires patience, a good eye, and a hearty dose of luck. Depop is what you make of it. If you want to leisurely scroll and see what you stumble across, the option is there as an ‘explore’ page enables just that.

They remain a valuable resource for buying clothes cheaply and sustainably 

If you know what you’re looking for, you can tailor your search results and find cheap togs without the toil. We should celebrate the variety offered by the app, and consider sellers as well as buyers, many of whom are students as well. So, what if a few opportunists have realised that if they slap “vintage” in the description, they can make a neat sum reselling Oxfam jeans? Charity shops repeatedly report being overburdened with donations, even more so after lockdown clear-outs. It’s not as though these Depop sellers are rinsing them of all their stock. 

They remain a valuable resource for buying clothes cheaply and sustainably. On the app, items in a higher price bracket haven’t displaced cheaper items. They simply pander to a different demographic, and more expensive items shouldn’t be condemned simply in virtue of being pricier.

Depop has become so much more than just buying and selling old clothes

Lillian Greenough is at university studying astrophysics, while also running Woolly Mammoth Knits. Advertising her jumpers at a hefty £250, they are certainly beyond the reach of most student buyers, but this is the point as Depop caters to every budget, every niche, every style.

It provides a platform for small businesses and specialist boutiques, permitting the growth of a customer base before launching a website. Creativity flourishes and I’ve seen custom embroidery, upcycling, homemade jewellery, hand-painted denim jackets all on the app. Converse become canvases, Vans become the work of Vincent himself, nowhere is it more evident that fashion is art. 

Depop has become so much more than just buying and selling old clothes, and this is far from its downfall. The app should remain a staple for any eco-conscious student, whether you’re looking to buy cheap clothes, make some extra cash, or splash out on something bespoke. Who knows, maybe when festivals return it’ll be you who is the poncho-clad envy of all.

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