I was first exposed to the world of alternative fashion by Instagram style gods and Depop shop designers online. While constantly scrolling through social media, I looked up to their curated online shops that showcased their personal styles, and made their closets available to me too. It was almost too easy to admire the #ootd (outfit of the day) “fitpic” an Instagram influencer posted, and then go on their Depop to see the same vintage, one-of-a-kind band tee available on their online shop. I could easily stalk and shop the closets of those I found stylish, and pick out unique pieces add to my own closet. On Depop, the prices are typically low since the clothes are already purchased second-hand from thrift shops or worn-in (made to be extra comfortable and well-loved) from the shop owner’s own closet. Depop means I can avoid fast fashion, save money, and make my wardrobe more varied.
Though I have long followed these stylish influencers, I’ve always dreamed of following in their footsteps. I would describe my wardrobe as grungy, alternative, and a little daring. My clothing’s color palette is composed of black and neutral colors, though worn with pops of color in my accessories. I have found many of my clothes while scouring thrift stores and consignment shops by myself, searching high and low for unique finds that spoke to my personal, punky flair.
Finding my merchandise
First, I visited a Goodwill store. Though Goodwill doesn’t seem like a treasure trove to most, this is where I found the majority of my best thrift finds. Digging through clothing rack after clothing rack of discarded, second-hand clothes felt like a scavenger hunt. On my hunt I picked up white trousers in a silky charmeuse material that I pictured an ‘80s rockstar wearing on stage. The pants were originally from Talbots, so it’s more likely that my grandmother would be sporting them and calling them “slacks”, but a girl can dream. I also found lavender and forest green high-waisted plaid pants, and a dark green and black checkered skirt. I love incorporating these plaid and muted pops of color into my wardrobe.
Similarly, I also found a cropped, black and red checkered turtleneck. I thought it could be worn under a t-shirt for layering, or on its own with some high-waisted jeans. I also found a cheetah print cardigan with big, round black buttons that I thought was both chic and professional. Though animal print can look tacky, this more neutral colored sweater reminded me of the Lily Pulitzer cardigans my mom used to dress me in for family photos, just with a little added spunk. Finally, the best find of my Goodwill haul was a pair of white, hard-canvas sneakers with American traditional tattoo designs all over them.
Next I visited Boomerangs,a second-hand clothing and furniture shop which donates its proceeds to AIDS treatment and prevention. The store was eclectically decorated, with art all over the walls and knick-knacks covering every counter. There was a lot of clothing and accessories for me to peruse, and I took my time scouring my options. While there were lots of neat pieces, I only left the store with a tan colored beret. I thought it would be a classy way to spice up any outfit, especially when paired with any other french-inspired clothing. I have a striped shirt I like to wear with black overalls I could see it pairing well with. Or, it could be a dainty addition to wear with a dress if I’m feeling extra snazzy and Parisian.
Finally, I visited the Garment District—the self-described “alternative department store.” The Garment District is plastered with pink walls, endless rows of vintage denim and leather, and tons of costumes and costume jewelry. The best part of the store, however, is the room with two-foot high piles of clothes strewn across and covering the entire floor. It looks as if a shopaholic didn’t do laundry and left their clothing strewn on the floor for their entire life (though, all the clothes appear to be clean). Not only are there more clothes than you could ever sort through, you can bring in a bag to fill with clothes and pay $2.00 per pound of clothing (no matter what the clothing/shoes are)—and on Fridays, you only pay $1.00 per pound! Each morning when the store opens, the Garment District receives a delivery of 850 pounds of assorted clothing. Though I rummaged through some of it, I didn’t have any luck finding anything that suited me. Venturing upstairs, however, I found a light pink-beige faux fur coat, and a statement pair of red fishnets. I pictured that the fishnets would go well with the American traditional style sneakers from Goodwill. As for the faux fur coat, I liked the color of it and thought I would get a lot of wear out of it. I happily snagged my purchases and headed home with my secondhand, thrifted haul.
setting up shop
After settling on which style of clothes I wanted to sell, I had to decide how I wanted to take my pictures for the shop. Though I have zero modeling experience, I have taken quite a few selfies in my day. In my cluttered two-person dorm room, I set up a space where I could take all my pictures. After several failed attempts on my bed (I couldn’t get the full outfit in frame) and in front of my door (the door handle created an unsightly crease in the backdrop), I decided to pull my window curtain down and pose on my desk. I wanted to show how one could style each of the pieces, so I wore a different outfit for every picture. Taking all the pictures took a while because I had to set up my camera’s self timer, get on my desk, and pose several times for each piece. When I finally finished, I uploaded all the pictures from my camera to my phone. Depop only allows mobile uploads, so I used my camera roll editing settings to fine-tune all of the pictures so the lighting was uniform.
Finally, it was time to upload all the pictures to my Depop shop. Each item upload could have a maximum of four pictures to advertise it with. I wanted to show each clothing item from a different angle so customers could get the full scope of the piece, so I tried to upload four pictures for most of my posts. Writing the descriptions for each piece was fun, and forced me to think creatively about styling. I described what each item looked like, what it could be paired well with, its brand, and its size.
Before all my pieces were even uploaded, I got a message from a buyer regarding my tan beret. It was exciting having customer interaction with my shop so quickly from an interested customer. I was glad that the way I was branding my Depop shop seemed to work almost immediately. After uploading all of my pictures to the shop, it was neat to look at my very own virtual wardrobe shop. I felt proud that all the planning and hours spent thrifting, taking and editing photos, and writing descriptions could be shown on the screen—not only to me, but to an entire online marketplace.
The process of thrifting, creating a shop, taking pictures to advertise with, and selling my clothes has been very rewarding. I think what benefitted me most in my Depop venture was having an established style I was hunting for while shopping. Additionally, having a camera to take higher quality photographs made my shop more aesthetically pleasing and, therefore, more likely to be viewed. In the future, I think that taking photos outside and on the street might make for even more interesting photos. I’ve seen some other notable Depop shop owners do this, and seeing someone wearing the pieces out and about makes it easier for me to envision myself wearing their clothes out and about in my life as well, which makes me more likely to buy their clothes.
Even though it pains me to get rid of all the treasures that I hunted for, I want to keep uploading to Depop and watching my shop grow in the future. Teaching myself how to build a Depop shop was an eye-opening experience in branding myself and realizing all the work that goes into creating a shop and professional online image. Additionally, it’s a creative and fun way to make extra money as a college student. I hope to keep sharpening my eye for unique finds while thrifting, expanding my personal style choices, and creating a successful Depop that benefits me and my customers alike.
To check out my Depop, visit: https://www.depop.com/peachy_angel/