Vinted – is this new pre-loved shopping app as good as it claims to be?

Words by Josie Waddington

As the harsh realities of fast fashion and its unethical practices have come to light, it is safe to say that the second-hand clothes movement is a positive and progressive step towards a sustainable society here in the UK. As a trend, vintage fashion has boomed significantly since the 2020 summer lockdown – specifically in young adults who would now probably see a vintage Tommy Hilfiger fleece equal to an undiscovered Van Gogh – yet people had been repurposing pre-loved clothes long before the y2k craze. What’s more, the birth of modern technology has now allowed us to buy and sell from the comfort of our own wardrobes. Vinted is a front-running example of this, originally imagined by co-founders Mitkute & Janauskas in 2008. Since then, it has grown to become a buying and selling legend and is now used in 15 countries, primarily based in Europe. Today 45 million individuals are giving their unwanted clothes a second life and combatting the harmful spread of fast fashion. 

However, there is no doubt that another titan known as Depop dominates the second-hand selling scene within the UK. In comparison to the 45 million ‘vinters’, Depop houses only 30 million (a figure said to be continually growing) users yet rules the online British vintage market. To me, a 20-year-old female, Depop represents an opportunity to actively avoid environmentally destructive fast-fashion brands wherever I can as a student on a somewhat tight budget, whilst expressing myself through the styles I feel best in. Fashion, in my mind, functions as a powerful projection of character that allows individuals to assert their personality with both confidence and comfort (Tesco run fits not included). Therefore, I ask the question, which platform deserves the number one spot for buying and selling second-hand clothes? In this piece, I set out to directly compare the two companies and confirm which app is the most functional, successful, and all-around best platform to use when partaking in the online pre-loved fashion community.

So, can Vinted beat Depop? If your main focus when buying second-hand fashion is to spend as little money as possible, the answer is a definite yes. After conducting some extensive research on the average prices of the popular searches, cami top (an item highly popularised by the surging y2k style), jumper, and jeans, Vinted’s figures came up lower every time. Depop’s cami top average price, calculated from the first 40 items in the search, was £14, compared to Vinted’s £10. The average costs for jeans showed the smallest gap, with Depop’s coming back at £20.80 and Vinted £17.70; however, the averages for jumpers (a category stereotypically strewn with more expensive brands and vintage culture) showed the most significant contrast in price. If you are looking to buy a jumper on Depop, you will typically pay around £28.40, yet on Vinted, you may only have to give up £19.50, meaning that Vinted is undoubtedly cheaper than Depop on the whole.

Despite this, it has to be said that the apps have essentially different functions, which may explain the difference in prices. Though clearly similar in foundation, after researching how the apps describe themselves, I found that the target audiences of Vinted and Depop are inherently separate. Vinted’s website focuses strongly on the potential in ‘clothes that have more to give’, their aim being ‘to show you how brilliant second-hand can be’. One statement that stood out to me was the idea that Vinted users ‘don’t feel pressure to follow trends’, as I would argue this encapsulates the most significant difference between the two companies and their customers. Depop debatably functions on the basis of trends, pushing users to ‘celebrate their style and discover culture’ through the use of hashtags to categorise items into tropes or time stamps that have circulated back into fashion. Vinted chooses to go against this idea of categorisation, meaning that if you are looking to participate in a particular look, I would recommend you opt for Depop.

Nevertheless, Vinted does come up trumps in most other aspects, mainly in terms of app functionality. As a Vinted user, you will gain 100% of the money you make from selling an item, whereas Depop has historically taken 10% of each sale, a significant downside if you are looking to make a profit from your pre-loved pieces. Moreover, the issue of scamming is a risk much smaller when using Vinted, as unlike on Depop, the seller will only get access to the funds made when the buyer has received and okayed the item on the app. This means that the sneaky move of selling an item and never sending it will not work on Vinted, giving it, in my opinion, a sizeable advantage over Depop and their sometimes lengthy dispute process.

To summarise, the top spot belongs entirely to the app you are most compatible with. Are you shopping for vintage gems or replacement staples you don’t want to fork out for? Ultimately, and I know this may seem to be a cop-out on my part, both Vinted and Depop win in terms of sustainability, and the push against fast fashion is a battle much more important.