Do you frequently find yourself wondering when you'll give up fast fashion? Or how to reduce, reuse and repair your wardrobe.
Revamping your old clothes can give them a second lease of life, trying to live sustainably can seem like an information overload.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, however. Even governments are recognising the need to stem our damaging fast fashion addiction. The EU recently warned consumers to stop using their clothes like throwaway items, proposing plans to counter the wastefulness of fast fashion.
European Commission Vice president Frans Timmermans said that the clothes we wear “should last longer than three washes.” Sustainable fashion campaigners like Livia Firth would argue it should be much more, at least 30 wears per item.
A wealth of clothing resale apps have popped up over the last few years in an attempt to prevent unwanted items from ending up in landfill. And, while they won’t fix the fashion industry on their own, they have a lot to offer when it comes to fixing your own wardrobe.
A note on buying second-hand
Before you dive into our recommendations for the best clothing swap and resale platforms, there’s one thing to consider. How many times you actually plan to wear something really matters.
Wherever your clothing comes from, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of buying items that you’ll only wear once or twice, sustainable fashion expert Dorothée Baumann-Pauly told Euronews Green in April.
“It doesn't matter whether you're buying second hand. It doesn't matter whether you're renting, it doesn't matter whether you're buying. What really matters is how many times you're going to wear it.”
So now we’ve got that cleared up…let’s get straight to our curated app recommendations.
Vinted: For clothing swaps
Focusing on high street brands, Vinted is popular around the world with 50 million members buying and selling second-hand clothing.
There are zero selling fees and once your item has been snapped up, Vinted sorts everything down to the shipping label. Just print the pre-paid label, take it to your nearest drop off point and when the buyer receives the item, you’ll be paid.
It also offers users the opportunity to swap clothing items. If you are willing to trade rather than exchanging money, then you can mark an item as available for swapping.
Look out for items with the swap symbol in the item description because these users might be willing to set up a trade.
Depop: For a wide variety of styles
Launched in 2011, Depop was originally a social network. It has now transformed into an interactive second-hand shopping app with over 20 million users around the world. Somewhere between eBay and Instagram, it has a mix of brands with individual sellers offering a wide variety of styles in one place.
Because anyone can sell on Depop, watch out for fast fashion resellers buying large volumes of the same clothing item to sell for a profit on the app. Cheap imported items can be a problem too with sellers branding them as designer items. The best way to avoid these problems is to stay wary of anyone listing multiple sizes of the same piece of clothing.
If you are looking to get rid of some items yourself, it is easy to set yourself up on the app. You won’t be charged for listing items like on some other platforms but there is a 10 per cent fee to pay when they sell.
Dotte: For second-hand children's clothing
Dotte is making moves in a second-hand market that is otherwise neglected by other online marketplaces: children’s clothing.
Created during the pandemic, its co-founders Samantha Valentine and Louise Weiss arrived at the idea as a result of parental frustration. Their kids grew out of their clothing at an alarming rate going through around seven different sizes in just their first two years of life.
Without a way to clear out these unwanted clothes, they decided to build a platform where they could be passed on to others. Parents can buy, sell, donate and recycle outgrown kidswear all in one place.
The startup is currently crowdfunding to launch an app later this year, making it even easier and quicker to resell these items.
They’ve also launched a partnership with several different brands, including Marks & Spencers in the UK, to reward parents for extending the lifespan of their children’s clothes.
thredUP: For minimal effort sales
Known as the world’s biggest thrift shop, thredUP takes a lot of the hassle out of selling your unwanted clothes online. The company sends you a prepaid bag or mailing label, you send them your items and the staff handles everything else, from descriptions to photography.
Once your clothing has been put on the site, all you need to do is sit back and see what is snapped up. Listing items on thredUP is free with a small percentage of the profits taken from the sale of your items.
If they don’t sell, the company will either ship them back to you or recycle them depending on what you choose.
Dopplle: For students
Dopplle calls itself the number 1 clothes swapping app for students.
The student-led startup was founded by Sam and Izzy while they were still studying to try and encourage people to exchange items within their university or college community. Both wanted to trade with their friends when they started university, but struggled to find others who shared their sense of style or body shape. Doppler was the answer to that problem.
With nights out and university events, lots of students want to look good. But it can be hard on a tight budget and the pair hope that the dual purpose of saving money while living more sustainably is something young people can get behind.
To get started, simply download the app, create an account, upload your items and get searching for an item to swap.
Nuw: For lending out your clothes
Launched in 2018, users on Nuw can either swap or lend their unwanted clothing items to other people. It was created by Aisling Byrne who says she was a fashion-obsessed teen, wanting a new outfit for every event.
A trip volunteering in India opened her eyes to the problem of overconsumption and she went in search of an accessible, affordable solution.
While many apps focus on reselling or renting high value, luxury items, Nuw hopes to recreate the experience of rummaging through a friend’s wardrobe to freshen up your own.
You start with lending, listing an unloved piece of fashion that someone then contacts you to borrow. You can arrange collection in person, delivery via bike courier or postage.
Once you’ve lent your first item, you’ll unlock the ability to trade permanently with others. Every item you list earns you a ‘token’ that you can use to set up a swap or loan and each new trade costs 99p (€1.18).