Picture this: you really need a new pair of jeans. You can’t spend a lot of money on them but don’t want to get a cheap pair from Primark that won’t last you three months. You decide to hit up your local charity shops for a good quality pair.
Little do you know that earlier that day, some girl has cleaned out Oxfam and British Heart Foundation of every single pair of jeans they have even remotely in your size. Is she just a huge fan of denim? Is she planning to dress as 2001 JT and Britney Spears?
No, she’s decided all those jeans are vintage and is going to sell them on her Depop for £50 a pair.
People buying cheap from charity shops and selling for extortionate prices on Depop is getting more and more common. It’s bad for the environment, makes it harder for people to shop sustainably, and takes away these clothes from people who might need them. Here’s all the reasons you need to stop doing it.
Charity shops make sustainability available for everyone
One of the biggest issues with sustainable clothing is its inaccessibility. Lower class communities are judged for buying fast fashion, but the majority of environmentally-friendly clothing companies are far too expensive. Who has the money to spend £30 on an organic cotton t-shirt?
This is why charity shops are so valuable. People can get all kinds of clothing from within their own community, and they don’t have to contribute money to a company killing the environment. Plus, prices are affordable and accessible to most people.
Cleaning out charity shops of all their quality items and then charging way more money for them via an app completely derails this. It creates a different kind of sustainability gatekeeping.
On top of that, selling these clothes online and mailing them to a buyer makes them worse for the environment. Instead of going to a local charity shop where you can get clothes from someone nearby who donated them, you’re adding the middle man of a truck or plane.
What exactly are you charging for?
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I’m not saying that every thrift flipper on Depop is full of it. Some people are actually very talented seamstresses. If you put time and effort into revamping a piece of clothing and then you sell it according to the amount of labour you put in, that’s totally fair.
What I don’t think you should be allowed to do is re-sell an item of clothing for triple the price when you’ve barely touched it. You think you can charge a ton of money because you’ve found a hidden gem that was right under everyone’s noses. Maybe the people who work at the shop knew it was a nice piece but wanted anyone to be able to buy it.
Maybe the person who donated that item gave it to a charity shop because, wait for it, they wanted it donated to charity. They didn’t envision some 20 year old reselling it for a ridiculous amount of money.
It’s a privilege to “choose” to buy your clothes from a charity shop
It’s important to remember that for many, buying clothes second-hand isn’t a fun trend. It’s a necessity. It’s a huge privilege to choose to shop second-hand to stay on trend.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy thrifted clothes if you have a stable income. It does mean that you should be considerate of those who rely on these shops for all their clothes.
There’s a huge difference between buying some basics and clearing out Oxfam to re-sell on your Depop. This applies especially to buying “oversized” clothing. Plus-sized individuals already have a difficult time finding clothes, let alone those who are low income. When you buy oversized t-shirts to sell for three times the price, you might be taking away a clothing item that someone wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
I think it’s great that sustainable fashion is trendy and cool. Second-hand clothes, sustainably sourced materials, and smaller capsule wardrobes should all be having their moment. It’s a great and necessary step in saving the planet.
In this new movement, it’s important to remember that everyone deserves affordable sustainable clothing. Your Depop business is making it a lot harder for people to do so.
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• Meet the Charity Shop Boy: The laid-back guy with a wardrobe better than yours