European resale marketplace Depop officially launched in Australia in September. We chat with general manager Aria Wigneswaran about the bright future for circular fashion, her love of Selfridges and the changing resale landscape. What are some of your favourite retailers around the world and why? As a former Londoner, one of my favourite stores in the world is Selfridges. We actually worked with them last year on a three-month pop-up that featured over thirty Depop sellers, selling their
their unique vintage within the retail environment. It was a huge moment for our sellers who had previously grown their businesses from their bedroom, and now had the opportunity to sell next to major brands and designers for the first time. What really impresses me about Selfridges is their ongoing commitment to making the shopping experience circular. Not only bringing in resale platforms like Depop, but supporting local charities like Oxfam and opening up repair stations for customers to come in to extend the life of their existing garments. We need more retailers to learn the value of circular-first shopping and understand the long-term value in championing the reuse market. How do you think the resale landscape has changed in recent years? If we look at resale today, versus tomorrow, it’s clear that it isn’t just a trend. It’s the future of fashion and is capturing market share rapidly. The percentage of secondhand apparel in a person’s closet is expected to double in the next ten years and is on track to make up one-third of our wardrobes by 2033. It’s rise in popularity comes down to its accessibility – now you can buy and sell at the touch of a button. And it’s cool. The stigma of buying secondhand has completely disappeared. Describe your favourite resale item that you bought. From Depop, it would have to be a long-sleeved Mambo tee – the first shirt Jim Mitchell designed for the Australian heritage brand, printed in 1990. Who are some of your retail heroes? I would say Rihanna. With Fenty, she’s built a successful business focused on bringing diversity across size, shape and colour to an industry that seriously lacked representation. She’s really succeeded in adding that emotional element to retail. How has the pandemic changed how you lead your team? We’ve obviously had to become way more adaptable – the perk of being a tech company meant we were flexible enough to adapt easily to virtual life, and we were early to do so, prioritising the health and safety of our team. We also had to find new ways to support our community through an unprecedented time. Depop immediately launched a dedicated Covid-19 help centre, issued daily guidance by territories and set up direct lines of communication to our community; our COO was on WhatsApp groups with sellers and buyers across the world to ensure that we were listening closely to the issues they were facing. Our communications were essential throughout every stage of the pandemic. We were first to tell our community to stay home and follow the guidance of their local governments – 90 per cent of our active users are under the age of 26, so we knew this was super important. How do you think the pandemic will change consumer behaviour? We’ve seen the pandemic reveal the realities of bricks-and-mortar and the benefits and convenience of digital ecommerce from a consumer perspective, which I believe will be a long-term channel shift. It’s also definitely accelerated a rise in more conscious consumption and a move away from waste-producing business models. In these uncertain times, people are buying less, but buying better and making sure that their purchases align with their values. More than ever, values of community and sustainability have been highlighted during the pandemic. Our core Gen Z community have always been champions of the circular fashion movement and they expect consumers across the board to be more mindful of the environment when shopping after this pandemic ends. Resale has definitely proven to be a viable business model prior to the pandemic, and will continue serving as both a desirable and thoughtful alternative to fast fashion. If you could organise the perfect Zoom coffee chat, who would you invite and why? US congresswoman AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), K-pop group BTS and teen influencer Emma Chamberlain – all incredible changemakers who have used their influence to shape their industry and spaces in different ways. Say all international borders opened and you could travel anywhere in the world. Where would you go and why? London, as it’s my second home. Sri Lanka, as it allows me to be close to my heritage, and it’s a beautiful place. And Japan, for the fashion of course!