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Depop Sale: Fashion Retailers Must Move Faster on the Sustainability Front

The information that Depop – one in every of Gen-Z’s favourite apps for getting and promoting used clothes – had been sold to Etsy for $1.6 billion is a warning shot for vogue retailers. For years, conventional retailers and “quick vogue” firms have moved too slowly on the sustainability entrance. Etsy’s acquisition of Depop reveals that buyers, led by an eco-conscious Technology Z, are taking issues into their very own arms, and it has industrial enchantment. 

The style trade has been sluggish to combine sustainability-centric practices into manufacturing and retailing, thereby, leaving a gap for disruptive new redistribution fashions to fulfil shopper preferences. In 2020, new customers of Depop elevated by 163 % from the earlier 12 months, with a 200 percent growth in traffic and a 300 percent increase of sales. Its immense recognition is a mirrored image of the success of sustainable redistribution markets, notably amongst youthful customers.

Style for an eco-conscious cohort

The rise of Depop and different consumer-to-consumer vogue redistribution platforms and apps, together with Vinted and Vestiaire Collective, illustrate the draw of the circular economy – benefiting from sources already in circulation and the usually more-affordable costs that come together with that. That is particularly interesting to youthful shoppers who’re extra concerned about sustainability, local weather change, and the way forward for the planet. 

This technology has additionally been fast to undertake different sustainable life decisions, like vegan diets. In distinction to the style trade, meals suppliers from grocery shops to KFC have responded to this demand with increased availability of plant-based food products. Participation within the round financial system is an illustration of shoppers adopting duty for post-consumption behaviors and actively creating alternatives for different shoppers to undertake extra sustainable vogue practices, with the additional advantage of an earnings for people who take part within the round financial system by promoting their undesirable wares. 

One advantage of Depop is the accessibility of the app. Gen-Z are a cohort which have grown up with digital technology, and apps are a well-known area for socializing, sharing, and accessing info and consumption. Moreover, the lack to go to the excessive road and brick-and-mortar shops, extra typically, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic compelled most consumption on-line. As a rising quantity of shoppers have grown used to having their vogue delivered, there isn’t any drawback to them in buying by way of Depop. 

On the identical time, whereas shoppers could wish to purchase extra sustainable clothes, there are numerous established barriers, reminiscent of greater pricing, lack of vogue enchantment, lack of knowledge, and a bigger misunderstanding of sustainable vogue terminology. Past that, shoppers aren’t ready to sacrifice their sense of self and identification within the identify of sustainability, and that is very true provided that many patrons don’t understand all of the ways in which the fashion industry is unsustainable

Depop will get round a few of these obstacles by making a market the place Gen-Z shoppers are each the sellers and the patrons, so the style offered on the app is specifically appealing to them. That is an instance of collaborative consumption, a system which incorporates a lot of different practices to allow commodities for use for longer and by a better variety of folks. This may occasionally embrace redistribution markets, reminiscent of Depop, as a platform for exchanging used clothes, or renting and borrowing garments, reminiscent of is present in a fashion library system.

Retailers should act quick

The style trade lags far behind within the sustainability sphere. The low value of quick vogue encourages senseless consumption, and buyers have been vocal about calling this out – for instance, the social media marketing campaign in opposition to on-line retailer Fairly Little Factor for selling a dress for 8 cents during a Black Friday sale. Excessive vogue equally has well-established shortcomings in its personal labor practices, waste, and many others. So, what can manufacturers do to deal with these considerations?

Some manufacturers embrace a sustainable vary constructed from natural or recycled supplies. The issue is that these collections are sometimes restricted to primary objects, reminiscent of vests, t-shirts and leggings, and are shrouded in buzzy advertising and marketing babble. And any profit being borne from these initiatives is vastly overshadowed by the accelerated manufacturing of quick vogue. Within the quick vogue area and past, many retailers goal to deal with sustainability by encouraging shoppers to eliminate undesirable clothes by donation quite than handle sustainability in manufacturing and retailing. Some retailers encourage shoppers to return undesirable clothes to the shop – in return for a voucher to buy new vogue. Nonetheless, the issue of local weather change and scarce sources can’t be solved by way of extra consumption.

The used clothes market in the UK, for example, just isn’t sufficiently buoyant to resell garments donated to shops and charity retailers, which means that a lot of this ends up in developing countries or, within the occasion of Brexit border delays, stuck in warehouses.

Provided that its enterprise is centered on tapping into what shoppers need, it’s considerably stunning that the style trade is so out of contact with shopper traits. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered social systems and consumption practices, and solidified youthful shoppers’ sentiment for conscious consumption. This new chapter, mixed with the success of Depop, presents manufacturers with a possibility to reconsider their business models. One vogue retailer embracing this nicely is Cos, a part of the H&M group, which enables shoppers to purchase and promote used Cos clothes on-line as a part of its “Resell” program along side establishes resale web site Reflaunt. And London division retailer Selfridges has opened a everlasting “pre-loved” department, which sees it providing up pre-owned wares in its retailer flagship retailer on Oxford Avenue in central London in partnership with Vestiaire Collective. 

Given the momentum of Gen-Z’s desire for collaborative consumption, my colleagues and I are increasing our analysis to look at engagement on redistribution markets, by way of apps and bodily occasions, in addition to the potential for renting fashion. We will even study whether or not youthful shoppers understand a lack of authenticity in Depop being bought by Etsy, as when L’Oreal bought the Body Shop. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see whether or not the change in possession impacts the industrial actions of Depop.

It’s clear from Etsy’s buy of Depop that there’s industrial enchantment for extra sustainable vogue. As different digital platforms for vogue develop in recognition, the style trade wants to alter – and quick – if it needs to remain related.

Elaine L. Ritch is a Senior Lecturer in Advertising at Glasgow Caledonian College. (This text was initially printed by The Dialog.)

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