Fast fashion, an umbrella term for brands including ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Fashion Nova, H&M, Zara, and Adidas, is unequivocally one of Earth’s biggest polluting industries. They pay their employees low and sell their items for less, affording to do so by cutting corners in environmental departments. While many are attempting to make the move from fast to sustainable shopping, the latter option is unfortunately riddled with problems. It is often incredibly expensive and frequently omits inclusive sizing. The next-best option, and trending hotspot, is the thrift store; however, you might notice things have changed in your local Value Village or Goodwill. 

Firstly, price points have dramatically increased. T-shirts that once sold for ninety-nine cents are racking up double digits on your bill. Second, anything outwardly stylish or reputable is swept up by Depop resellers looking to make a profit on their findings. Depop is an application that allows people to post their used or unwanted items and like, comment, or save other people’s posts similar to interactions seen on Instagram or other social networking sites. Users on the app spin their listings into gold, selling Champion gear for double what they bought it for at Walmart twenty years ago or triple the price of a thrifted children’s shirt branded a trendy ‘baby tee’. This is leading to the gentrification of second-hand shopping. Though this issue becomes complicated because discouraging second-hand shopping altogether cannot be the answer.

To maintain increased demand, thrift stores inevitably have to increase their prices to accommodate second-hand trendiness. But this isn’t without consequence. The critique is more that resellers are, by association, raising the prices in thrift stores that result in low-income individuals being priced-out of the stores they rely on. Moreover, plus size consumers who struggle to have thrifted variety to begin with, are left with significantly less at their disposal.

About ninety percent of Depop’s users are under the age of twenty-six which leaves a minimal crowd with extensive knowledge to discern true vintage clothing from the heaps of thrifted clothes on the app. Most garments on Depop are labelled as ‘vintage’, so as to garner exposure on more search criteria, despite the fact that ‘vintage’ refers to items that are at least twenty years old. However, in a market such as this one it’s simply supply and demand and with a reported thirty million users, there is bound to be someone doing the demanding. This overpopulated presence of ‘vintage’ clothing dilutes the real market and continues to gentrify a niche buying experience.

In a world that produces an excess of clothing to begin with, who really has a say about who gets to sell and who gets to buy in the second-hand market? Resellers and viral clothing hauls have exposed teenagers and young adults to a whole new side of second-hand shopping, even when they can afford to buy the clothes brand new. This gentrified second-hand shopping dilemma highlights the reality that no consumption is beyond capitalism. The planet evidently has too many clothes floating around to begin with. Buying second-hand is still buying and donating old clothes to buy new ones re-enforces the fashion industry’s motif that clothes have an expiration date on trendiness or wearability. It is important, however, to position these issues on the industries and corporations that propel them rather than placing the blame on individual resellers alone. With that being said, it is equally as important to tune into one’s privilege as a second-hand reseller and be acutely aware of that privileged effect.

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: PINTEREST

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