1 in 4 Gen Z Australians use second-hand fashion marketplace Depop – and its founder wants even more

Getty ImagesDepop founder Simon Beckerman
  • One in four Gen Z Australians are on second-hand fashion marketplace Depop, its founder says.
  • “The idea behind Depop is to create a community for like-minded people” said Depop founder Simon Beckerman.
  • The company said it wants to expand its reach further into South-East Asia.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

One in four Australians between the age of 15-25 is on second-hand fashion marketplace Depop, according to its founders. Depop is a peer-to-peer shopping app that can conceivably claim to have popularised sustainable and circular fashion practices for a new generation.

Speaking at Melbourne Fashion Festival’s 2021 Australian Fashion Summit, founder Simon Beckerman and CEO Maria Raga said they see their platform as a community and a site for discovery as much as a shopping app.

“We think of Depop not only as an app or as a tool, but we think of Depop as…a mindset,” said founder Simon Beckerman.

“The idea behind Depop is to create a community for like-minded people who are inspired by what’s new, what’s creative, what’s interesting in the world of fashion.”

Founded in 2012 by Beckerman in Italy, the platform was originally a social network where readers of his magazine, PIG, could buy items featured in its pages.

In line with many new-breed fashion platforms, the company’s appeal comes as much from its organic community as what it sells.

“People were just using the app to comment on items; it was not purely transactional,” said CEO of Depop Maria Raga, of what appealed to her when she joined the company.

“One of the key elements that I envisioned when I started the company was to level the playing field, in a sort of way,” said Beckerman.

Like Poshmark and other online thrift stores, the app was originally set up as a place to buy and sell clothes, however it has evolved to enable emerging designers, or anyone who wants to create their own garments, to set up an online store for their own brands; more in-line with Etsy.

Set up similarly to Instagram, with a feed functionality with photos and profiles on a recurring feed, the platform says its points of difference is its use of AI-powered algorithms that allow users to input information about their personal style, and the online community it says is drawn to its dual focus on democratising the fashion world and creating sustainable cycles of consumption.

Raga said she believes the platform’s commitment to diversity, as part of the company’s “DNA” as key to its appeal to Gen Z consumers.

“We know that the industry has not particularly been that diverse. So for us, diversity is a core value of the business,” she said.

“On the explore page, we aim to show the community as it is. And by doing that, people have the possibility to see all the people like them who made them also want to be part of the community.”

She also said the brand’s success came from its constant engagement with its users. “We know what our community wants because we are always talking to them,” she said.

“[Gen Z] are very very sensitive to brands not being authentic. And trying to be someone else. So if it’s part of your focus to appeal to the generation, it will become authentic. But if you wanna try to do it just so you can increase your market share or whatever, they will see it.”

Depop criticised for pushing up prices in resale market

In recent years the digital resale market has faced criticism for driving up the price of the online second-hand goods by allowing its sellers to list items for sale online at the price of their choice.

In Australia’s influencer market, many complain that platforms like Depop enable influencers to list items at inflated prices, raising the cost of the second-hand clothing market.

Influencer commentary account @aussieinfluenceropinions said in a recent Instagram story it thinks the practice is “tasteless’ but that resale marketplaces that democratise access to often high-end fashion brands shouldn’t impose rules about who can sell and how.

“I would be so fine if influencers sold products that they DID pay for, my issues is reselling the stuff they got for free, or upselling products they got at a heavily discounted price.”

Raga said that resale sites do more good than harm for fashion consumption, explaining the platform gives access to people who would not traditionally have had access to designer fashion.

And, she said, “a big proportion of the items that are produced end up in landfill. So we are by default providing a lot more supply.”

Raga said that moving forward the company wants to expand its reach, particularly in South-East Asia, while staying true to its goal of offering alternative practices of fashion consumption.

“We do see ourselves as a disruptor, but as a positive disruptor,” said Raga.

“We want to make sure that as we grow, we are also bringing something positive to the world.”

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