Living in New York City as a college student in 2018 during an endless blue-gray winter was like being dropped off at an amusement park with no money to enjoy the rides. I struggled to find things to do that would get me out of my tiny apartment without sucking my wallet dry. Bars, restaurants, and clubs required spending at least $50, so trying to plan a fun night out always boiled down to “Can I afford this?” Then I found a way to sustain my lifestyle of bar hopping, morning matcha lattes, and even a trip to Tokyo: selling my clothes on Depop. Here’s why I chose it, and, based on my interviews with a couple of expert sellers, some helpful tips to get you started, too.
Start by cleaning your closet
Tired of constantly pinching pennies, I looked for a gig that wouldn’t require much labor or time but could still boost my income. Between classes, an unpaid internship, and a part-time teaching job, my bandwidth was stretched to its limit. Inspiration arrived during a visit to a friend’s apartment. Thanks to our tiny living spaces, hanging out with a girlfriend usually required sitting next to a pile of junk on the bed or quietly shifting a trash bag of unwanted clothes to the other side of the sofa. “I’m going to get rid of those this week” was a common refrain. A little prodding revealed that my friend planned (but rarely followed through) on selling their old clothing, often through online marketplaces. An easy way to make money with minimal human contact (I’m an introvert) and zero physical labor? It was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Poshmark vs. Ebay
First, I needed to choose a platform. I had heard of Poshmark mainly due to its popularity, which—at least in theory—should make it easier to draw eyeballs and make sales. However, using Poshmark comes with high seller fees. For sales under $15, you pay a flat rate of nearly $3, but for sales above $15, the platform takes 20% of your total sale. I found it hard to even imagine making a profit.
I’d had some experience selling through eBay when I was in high school, mainly slinging relics from my dad’s basement: a great-aunt’s old mink coat, a lone barstool, a sky blue iPod Nano. I received only a few bids per item, and I sold them for less than they were worth. With shipping and complicated seller fees, it felt like a chore.
Instagram and Facebook
For designer items, you can usually find brand-specific Instagram accounts and Facebook groups that offer a more focused, interactive way to sell your wardrobe. Popular accounts and groups include those for Lululemon, Louis Vuitton, and Noihsaf Bazaar, the last of which mostly lists clothes from independent designers. But I don’t own any designer clothes, so these options weren’t a fit for me. Social networks are also a little more risky, because unlike eBay or Poshmark, they offer no protections to prevent fraud. If you want to take that risk, we have a few tips on how to avoid getting scammed.
Enter Depop. For the everyday, casual clothing I wanted to sell, Depop is the most user-friendly platform I found. The app is available for iOS and Android, and it looks and operates much like Instagram—something my Gen Z brain could handle. The pool of people on the app, which is currently at around 21 million, is smaller than the user base of both Poshmark and eBay, but it’s the right crowd for the caliber and quality of my clothing. My wardrobe staples are mostly basics like leggings, jeans, coats, T-shirts, and shoes, with a couple of statement pieces that I swap in and out every season. Most of the clothes for sale on the app are not luxury brands with three dollar signs attached to them. They’re either thrifted, fast fashion, or from independent designers. The platform charges a 10% flat-rate fee (PDF) on all items sold—I like that it’s straightforward and that it’s a small percentage compared with other options. I find the fee a fair price to pay to resell something like a ruby red, ribbed-knit top I originally bought for $25. After shipping costs, I reclaimed roughly $20.
Fiona Short, a UK-based owner of a popular Depop shop called Fifi’s Closet, told me she was drawn to the app for similar reasons. The culture of the app is young, open-minded, and versatile. It’s easy to build a community of people with similar tastes and interests that overlap beyond fashion and style.
“It doesn’t necessarily just focus on clothing, or the selling of clothes. It focuses on music, fashion, art … mental health, and sustainability,” Short said. It’s a marketplace that allows space for personal expression, culture, and community—one that Short has successfully tapped into and subsequently helps drive her sales. Her account has a whopping 184,000 followers and counting, and selling through the app is Short’s full-time job. If she puts in a consistent effort, she told me, she can make anywhere between €3,000 and €4,000 a month.
How to maximize sales on Depop
Not everyone is out to become a Depop superseller, but there are still ways to optimize your efforts and earn some extra money. Depop seller Sydny Sky told me that she makes anywhere between $800 and $1,500 a week by following a few simple rules, some of which also worked for me:
Write a compelling description
“Photos will get you on the explore page, but it’s the description that really sells,” Sky says. She recommends following the same format for each listing: Write your description first and include as many keywords as possible. Keywords can call out details like stitching, embroidery, and every single color you can see. Then disclose the condition, the size, and the measurements of the model, and mention if you’re offering free shipping (this can be a selling point, but if you plan to charge for shipping, Sky says not to advertise it, as shipping costs can discourage potential buyers from even taking a look). Once you’ve put it all together, your listing should look something like this.
Find your audience
Aesthetics are a big selling point on Depop. Anything from plain tees to one-of-a-kind clothing has a place—you just have to find your audience. When you land on a style that works for your followers, stick with it. Consistency is key.
Try modeling the clothes you want to sell. Test out different poses. Sky warns: “Don’t let your photo be more distracting than the product you’re selling.” Make sure your clothing is the focal point of the picture by keeping the background simple: Clean the space and keep pets out of the frame so they don’t steal your limelight.
Know your (shipping) worth
New Depop sellers often make the mistake of offering promotions without knowing how much it will cost them. Incentivizing your potential customers with free shipping may seem like a simple and effective way to get them to buy, but shipping heavy (and costly) items like shoes could eat into your profit more than you anticipated. As a general rule, it’s best to offer free shipping promotions on lightweight items like dresses or shirts but to avoid it on heavier things such as shoes or winter coats. To avoid surprises, always remember to subtract the flat fee and the shipping costs (if applicable) from the profit.
Join r/Depop for extra help
Like therapy or nosy relatives, a little objective feedback can help point out flaws you would otherwise never catch. The r/Depop subreddit is meant to create a “safe space”—using that term loosely because this is the internet we’re talking about—for Depop users to air out their concerns, celebrate their wins, and ask for advice. It’s also a good place to keep yourself motivated and promote your page to other enthusiastic Depop fans.
Be kind and reliable
At the end of the day, people just want to know there’s a decent human being on the other end of the transaction. Fast responses, quick shipping, and a few good reviews can seriously boost your credibility as a seller. The rest is up to you. Be creative, because there is no one formula to succeed, especially as the pool of prospective customers continues to grow. Hone your style, and your audience will find you.
Although I can’t say that my Depop shop earned me a fortune, it did help fund a trip to Tokyo in my first year of selling. A year after that, my first job out of college happened to be a copywriter position for an online luxury-fashion retailer. It entailed succinctly describing each piece of clothing, something I’d had ample practice doing. And now, my everlasting curse is automatically noting the stitch, color, quality, and cut of any random piece of clothing I encounter. Instead of thinking about how I would look wearing a new outfit, I’m wondering what I could resell it for.
1. Fiona Short, Depop seller, phone interview, September 24, 2020
2. Sydny Sky, Depop seller, phone interview, October 28, 2020