The information that Depop – one among 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” corporations have moved too slowly on the sustainability entrance. Etsy’s acquisition of Depop reveals that consumers, led by an eco-conscious Technology Z, are taking issues into their very own palms, and it has business attraction.
The style business has been sluggish to combine sustainability-centric practices into manufacturing and retailing, thereby, leaving a gap for disruptive new redistribution fashions to fulfil client preferences. In 2020, new customers of Depop elevated by 163 p.c from the earlier yr, with a 200 percent growth in traffic and a 300 percent increase of sales. Its immense reputation is a mirrored image of the success of sustainable redistribution markets, significantly amongst youthful customers.
Vogue 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 – taking advantage of assets already in circulation and the usually more-affordable costs that come together with that. That is particularly interesting to youthful customers 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 selections, like vegan diets. In distinction to the style business, meals suppliers from grocery shops to KFC have responded to this demand with increased availability of plant-based food products. Participation within the round economic system is an illustration of customers adopting duty for post-consumption behaviors and actively creating alternatives for different customers to undertake extra sustainable vogue practices, with the additional benefit of an revenue for those who take part within the round economic 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 house for socializing, sharing, and accessing data and consumption. Moreover, the shortcoming to go to the excessive avenue and brick-and-mortar shops, extra typically, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic pressured most consumption on-line. As a rising quantity of customers have grown used to having their vogue delivered, there isn’t any drawback to them in procuring by means of Depop.
On the identical time, whereas customers could wish to purchase extra sustainable clothes, there are numerous established barriers, resembling greater pricing, lack of vogue attraction, lack of expertise, and a bigger misunderstanding of sustainable vogue terminology. Past that, customers will not be ready to sacrifice their sense of self and identification within the title of sustainability, and that is very true provided that many consumers don’t understand all of the ways in which the fashion industry is unsustainable.
Depop will get round a few of these boundaries by making a market the place Gen-Z customers are each the sellers and the consumers, 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 various practices to allow commodities for use for longer and by a better variety of individuals. This will likely embrace redistribution markets, resembling Depop, as a platform for exchanging used clothes, or renting and borrowing garments, resembling is present in a fashion library system.
Retailers should act quick
The style business lags far behind within the sustainability sphere. The low price of quick vogue encourages senseless consumption, and consumers 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 so on. So, what can manufacturers do to deal with these issues?
Some manufacturers embrace a sustainable vary created from natural or recycled supplies. The issue is that these collections are sometimes restricted to primary objects, resembling vests, t-shirts and leggings, and are shrouded in buzzy advertising and marketing babble. And any profit being borne from these initiatives is enormously overshadowed by the accelerated manufacturing of quick vogue. Within the quick vogue house and past, many retailers purpose to deal with sustainability by encouraging customers to get rid of undesirable clothes by donation slightly than tackle sustainability in manufacturing and retailing. Some retailers encourage customers 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 assets can’t be solved by means of extra consumption.
The used clothes market in the UK, for example, shouldn’t be sufficiently buoyant to resell garments donated to shops and charity retailers, that means that a lot of this ends up in developing countries or, within the occasion of Brexit border delays, stuck in warehouses.
On condition that its enterprise is centered on tapping into what customers need, it’s considerably shocking that the style business is so out of contact with client traits. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered social systems and consumption practices, and solidified youthful customers’ 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 effectively is Cos, a part of the H&M group, which enables customers to purchase and promote used Cos clothes on-line as a part of its “Resell” program at the side of establishes resale website 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 Road 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, through apps and bodily occasions, in addition to the potential for renting fashion. We can even study whether or not youthful customers understand a lack of authenticity in Depop being bought by Etsy, as when L’Oreal bought the Body Shop. It will likely be fascinating to see whether or not the change in possession impacts the business actions of Depop.
It’s clear from Etsy’s buy of Depop that there’s business attraction for extra sustainable vogue. As various digital platforms for vogue develop in reputation, the style business wants to vary – 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 revealed by The Dialog.)