Is Vinted and Depop as Sustainable as we think?

Written by on 19th April 2024

Vinted and Depop have become the choice of many fashion users to buy clothes with the rise of inflation and consumers wanting to be eco-friendly but, are they really as sustainable as we think?

Social media is filled with second-hand clothing hauls from influencers sharing their latest buys, with Vinted reporting that they’ve had a 680% growth since June 2023, it has clearly noticed that the popularity of second-hand clothing is continuing to rise yearly. Although, the new found trend has found a lot of benefits: it helps promote sustainability, creativity and entrepreneur skills it is easy to forget the reality of these apps. With the constant consumption of clothes at your finger-tips on these apps and deliveries arriving daily it’s easy to fall into the trap of a consumer so maybe, what we really need to do is cut down on buying.

Em Shaw, who buys clothes on Vinted, said: “The main reason I buy clothes from Vinted is for sustainability, affordability and accessibility. I like being able to buy clothes that might have otherwise been wasted, for a better price then they would have brand new, as a lot of styles and brands I like are often a little too pricey for me.

I think on a whole, buying on Vinted and Depop is sustainable, as it gives clothes a new lease of life, so they don’t end up in landfill. There are some issues with packaging and parcels being shipped across the world, but on the whole I think Vinted and Depop are pretty sustainable.

Photo Credit: Chloe Gudgin

Depop was the first app that launched in 2011 with the look of Instagram and Pinterest which helped make the app an instant success overnight. The small business quickly saw itself become a billion-dollar company with 14,000 items being made available on the app each day. The popularity of the second-hand clothing app since 2011 saw prices increase and consumers trying to find the new up and coming app for valuable clothes at a cheaper price for fashion-lovers, which then ultimately meant that Vinted was made in 2014.

Photo Credit: Chloe Gudgin

In the post-pandemic world, Vinted became popular in 2021 despite being launched 7 years previous. With Vinted rising up the ranks and slowly overtaking Depop, the main difference for that is the price difference. Vinted is yet to have the aesthetic that Depop had or the overnight success, which shows why the prices of clothing on Vinted have stayed at a lower price. The popularity of Vinted has been helped with influencers doing ‘Vinted Hauls’ on TikTok which has saw second-hand clothing gain more popularity and saw it as the new ‘trend’ with some people even starting their own businesses on these apps.

Photo Credit: Chloe Gudgin

Ruby Blandford, who owns ScndHandLucky on Depop said: “I think I decided to make my business because second-hand clothing had been such a hobby for long enough that I knew what people were looking for and what might sell. I could recognise what had vintage levels so I thought I would turn it into a side hustle to see if I could make some money and I just enjoyed it really.

Ruby, then goes on to mention why she believes that Vinted and Depop are popular. “I think what’s grown is the social media element with the growth of sustainable influencers and with them talking about the items on Vinted and Depop with how you don’t just get tut, you actually get good stuff for cheaper so it’s a win-win situation and I think as well it’s a way to make money for people.”

The rise of Vinted and Depop in the last 12 months via Google Trends.

Despite the popularity of second-hand clothing via Depop and Vinted it has still become a trend, and with trends become overconsumption which then leads to the idea that those apps are not sustainable at all. With the ever-changing fashion trends every few months from the 90s chic to the mob-style they all ultimately end up on Vinted and Depop and with fast fashion brands becoming a huge fix on Vinted and Depop such as Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo where the quality of the fashion items means that the clothes won’t last as long and consumers will automatically be buying more clothes on Vinted and Depop.

According to Retail Dive 86% of women said that social media influences their decision to buy clothes, with the number of influencers doing clothing hauls on TikTok and Instagram has increased with new clothing trends. The trend cycle is constantly getting updated and the pressure to keep up can be hard to follow with it causing an overconsumption of clothes.

Raakhee Stratton Khatri, who is a sustainability influencer, said: “I think there may be elements of sites like Depop and Vinted that can help with sustainability but I wonder whether it’s more to do with convenience. We can do so much from our phones and the rise in apps that promote second-hand clothing make life a lot easier.”

Regardless if we are buying second-hand clothing or fast fashion, if we are overconsuming then it can never be sustainable. With the clothes we are buying online, majority of them are fast fashion companies which means that they aren’t made of long-lasting material and the quality of clothes are not as sustainable.

If you are wanting to be more eco-friendly with your fashion then re-wear, look out for true vintage items, repair and try different ways of wearing clothes to help make fashion sustainable whether it’s from Vinted, Depop or Fast fashion companies.

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