Depop, the social shopping platform that’s home to more than 10 million stylists, designers, artists, collectors, vintage sellers and sneakerheads, among other tribes, on Friday opened its first physical location in Manhattan, a 1,000-square-foot unit at 168 Mott Street in Chinatown.
The neighborhood, which is filled with fragrant noodle shops and dive bars, has also been associated with artists and art collectives, socialists, hipsters and activists. “We wanted to be in an area that was up and coming and where there are a lot of creative people,” said Depop founder Simon Beckerman. “We want people to come on the platform and discover something new — a new piece, trend or style. Instead of following the dictates of fashion, we try to discover things nobody has seen before.”
Beckerman referred to the new location somewhat loftily as The Space, rather than the more run-of-the-mill, store. “We do sell some things,” he said, ironically. “The goal is not to make money out of it. We have inventory where people can buy things that are representative of our marketplace.
“The space is a place where we can connect with our community of buyers and sellers in a more direct way,” said Beckerman. “We’ll invite people in and do all sorts of things. In L.A. [where a brick-and-mortar location bowed earlier this year] we do things like teaching people how to screen print. It’s all things around creativity.”
Depop’s Chinatown space boasts a photo studio specifically designed for still-life, product-as-hero shots, which can be booked free of charge by sellers. “We’ve got pro equipment, refreshments and loads of tips on how to shoot,” the Web site says.
Sandy Liang, who operates a studio shop on nearby Rivington Street and once described her brand as “grandma, funny, furry,” kicked off the events at Depop when she shared her expert knowledge of reworking vintage. She’s fittingly designing an exclusive collection of reconstructed dresses made from vintage pieces sourced from the Depop community.
Other exclusives will include designer vintage from Planet X New York shop owner Venus, who has been collecting rare pieces through her travels for years and will provide items during Depop’s opening month from Comme des Garçon, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel.
Slumpykev, an artist who paints on streetwear the characters from cartoons of his childhood — which wasn’t that long ago since he’s only 18 — created for Depop the I Goat New York release with three hand-painted pieces and three screen-printed hoodies and T-shirts featuring Bill from “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,” and Courage from “Courage the Cowardly Dog.”
“New York is a vital market for us,” said Maria Raga, Depop chief executive officer. “Our sales in New York have grown by more than 500 percent over the last two years.”
Depop’s platform offers a vast array of styles, product and prices, from Valley of the Rogue’s “blowout sale $1 make us an offer,” to Vintageluxe’s black crocodile Hermes Birkin bag, $21,999.
“This whole trend has begun where people on Depop like to buy older things,” Beckerman said. “They’re more unique. But Depop isn’t only for thrifting and old things. A lot of people sell rare new things, limited-edition items and collaborations between brands.” For example, a plethora of Supreme merchandise on the platform, includes a keepall size 45 for $5,000 and authentic Louis Vuitton X Supreme sunglasses, $850.
“We’re starting to see a few smaller brands created by younger generations using Depop to sell,” Beckerman said. “Then, we have people who modify existing things. There’s this guy who takes old Air Jordans and remakes them using old stock Louis Vuitton textiles.”
Beckerman, who was the cofounder of PIG magazine and Retrosuperfuture sunglasses, originally launched Depop as a social network for PIG readers to buy items that were featured in the magazine. Recognizing that Depop needed a selling function, Beckerman launched the app as a mobile global marketplace where users could see what their friends and the people who inspire them were liking, buying, and selling.
“The idea behind Depop was to build a new kind of marketplace for the new generations,” Beckerman said. “The eBay for the new generations. Through mobile, we could do an app with geomarketing capabilities and personalization. People could peek into the wardrobes of the people they were following. That gave users much more confidence in buying from each other and buying vintage or used items more safely and comfortably.”
Beckerman said sellers were able to share backstories about pieces. For example: “‘I bought it in the Nineties and used it for going on holiday or going to a party,” he said. “The stories behind the items and the people who owned them are much more interconnected.”
Still, a bit of caveat emptor would be advised.