St Catherine’s Students Adding Fizz To Flat Times

St Catherine’s sisters Matilda (Year 9) and Florence (Year 11) Corsham have sharpened their entrepreneurship skills during lockdown.

It’s been billed as Instagram meets eBay, and with opportunities for teenage fun largely gone in lockdown, the “social shopping ” platform Depop is taking off among enterprising Australian kids.

Like Instagram, the app provides users with a feed of images (of second-hand clothes) other young users have posted, and the chance to follow influencers in whatever vintage niche floats their boat. Like Spotify, it suggests items based on what they have already liked or bought – usually for a steal.

Matilda (left) and Florence Corsham have embraced buying and selling secondhand clothes on the app Depop as an enterprising lockdown hobby.

Matilda Corsham, 14, and her sister Florence, 17, are among hordes of local teens who have jumped on the trend that started small in Europe before being embraced last year by young Americans, and that has taken off here as kids’ social lives moved inside.

As well as the cut prices, both say the sustainability aspect of Depop has huge appeal to a generation focused on environmental issues and the footprint of the fast fashion largely aimed at them.

“It’s a great way to reuse things rather than chuck things out that are perfectly fine. A lot of things like that get thrown away and it’s really bad for the environment,” says year 9 student Matilda.

Kids are quite happy to buy clothes that may not be perfect so long as they know what’s coming: “As long as people are really honest and show wear and tear, a little hole or mark and put photos of that on, it’s fine.”

It’s an activity that’s good and cleansing … and you can have your own little business kind of thing.

Matilda Corsham, 14

For Florence, as well as providing a lockdown distraction, getting into Depop is helping to replace the income from her part-time job lost to the pandemic.

“A lot of clothes are so expensive and [Depop] makes you much more aware of the value of money. You can buy cheaper clothes and still find great brands and quality,” she said.

“The only non-sustainable thing about it is shipping and packaging, but there’s not really a lot of plastic wrapping and tags and some people are advertising now that they’re using compostable packaging, which makes such a difference.”

Retro streetwear is hot, and items such as vintage Champion hoodies from seasons well and truly past are sought after, fetching around $40 (having retailed originally for about $100). “There are also all these designer brands, you could get a $70 Kookai dress for $15 or $20,” said Matilda.

Items with unknown provenance, sometimes from mothers’ closets, that could not be found now are also in demand. Florence describes this category as “random things that people have bought overseas and they don’t even know the brand, that you know no one else will have – things that are unique and look really cool and get a lot of likes are sold really quickly”.

All marketing, pricing, customer relations and, most importantly, honest communication about the goods on offer, including their imperfections, is done young-person to young-person and Florence says kids are reliably transparent in their dealings with each other.

For Matilda, going through her wardrobe to pull out things she no longer needs, then working out how to display, photograph and sell them has helped pass the time around home-school. “It’s an activity that’s good and cleansing … you can have your own little business kind of thing.”

Dr Hariette Richards, whose University of Melbourne research includes sustainability and fashion, said young people she has surveyed are very interested in, and knowledgeable about, the sustainability and ethics of fashion. “They are thinking quite deeply about it, and this is wonderful to see,” she said.

“The re-sale industry is one of the largest sectors in the fashion industry … young people are playing with fashion a lot more. There’s a lot of stigmatisation that young people are wrapped up in fast fashion and that’s all they buy – I just don’t think that’s the case.”

The Age - Saturday 8 August

By Wendy Tuohy

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