Past Trash: The Future of Retail

Buying second hand and vintage clothing is a far more sustainable option than shopping at most fast fashion retailers.

If you want to understand Gen Z and retail, look no further than Depop. We spoke to Bo and Eve Brearley, the sister-duo behind top Depop seller Past Trash, about the fluidity of influence, winning with Gen Z, and why going with your gut is usually the best strategy.

Irregular Report: Why did you decide to start selling on Depop? What is it about Depop that makes it so successful for you?

PAST TRASH: We stumbled across Depop in 2015 through a friend, and initially it was just a way for us to sell our own old clothes. We made a few successful sales, and soon after that, we realized we could approach selling on Depop more seriously. One week in April 2015 while abroad, we came across a vintage market and decided to purchase a couple of items with a 20 euro loan from our dad. They sold straight away, and that was the beginning of Past Trash. The tongue in cheek name was coined in a pizzeria the same day, and Bo scribbled a quick logo on a scrap of paper. Three and a half years later, we haven’t gotten around to changing it. We both wanted to create a shop which maintained the relaxed and approachable atmosphere of Depop, while delivering a more professional service than the average “bedroom seller”.

IR: What is Past Trash’s aesthetic and where does it come from? How has it evolved?
PT: It’s difficult for us to clearly define Past Trash’s aesthetic, because its ever-evolving and we cater to a wide range of styles. We sell predominantly nineties and noughties clothing, but are just as happy to throw a ’60s or ’70s piece into the mix.

IR: What do you think it is about Past Trash that has made it so popular?
PT: We offer unique, one off items which are often more reasonably priced than high street clothing. People love that they can purchase an item from us and know that nobody else at the party will be wearing it. Buying second hand and vintage clothing is a far more sustainable option than shopping at most fast fashion retailers, and this definitely adds to the appeal of buying from Past Trash.


IR: There was a recent article talking about the Depop aesthetic or style. But it seems like the sellers and buyers create a look not the platform. Do you think there is a “Depop look”? If so, what do you think it is and how do you think it evolved?

PT: Depop is a platform which facilitates the selling and buying of clothing so we would say any Depop aesthetic which exists is created entirely by the 10 million users of the app. The trends which are popular on Depop are always changing.

IR: Do you feel you’re influenced by your buyers or do you influence them, or both?

PT: Both! We are constantly inspired by our customers and what they want but we are also aware that over the years we have built a loyal following and we are extremely lucky in that many of our customers now trust our judgement. As a result, we are able to inspire and influence their style just as much as they do ours.

IR: When you’re deciding what to sell, who/ what are you thinking about? How much is dictated by what your community wants and how much is your instinct?

PT: Every item we sell is hand selected by us. It’s difficult to explain the thought process; we both feel like it is partly instinct and partly practice. Sometimes you pick up an item and you immediately know it’s going to be popular, other times it’s a bit more difficult and we need to decide how we could style or alter the item in order to make it look really good. When that happens it’s great to have each other so we can bounce ideas between us. Over the last three and a half years we’ve learnt what people want but it is mainly guess work with occasional guesswork.

IR:Do you think originality and personal style exists in a Depop age?
PT: Yes! We think the rise of selling sites like Depop have made fashion more accessible. From the comfort of your bedroom you can purchase clothing from across the globe, making it easy to carve out your own original style. Social media allows people to find inspiration and follow trends, but trendsetters and subcultures have existed throughout history, and we would argue that it doesn’t make people any less original.

IR:Who are you influenced or inspired by?

PT: We take inspiration from ’90s icons such as Monica Belluci and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. The nature of our work means we spend hours per day online, so we often find ourselves scrolling through the pages of Instagram influencers. Particular favorites are @devonleecarlson, @jeannedamas, @emrata and @lena.simonne. We think the way Courtyard La and Internet Girl run their online vintage shops is amazing.

IR: As somebody who has only existed on Depop, do you think physical experiences are important for retail? Is this something you plan on doing?

PT: The online shopping experience can never fully replace walking into a shop and feeling the fabric and trying on an item. We would say that the two can coexist. Online shopping offers a different physical experience. The excitement of receiving a parcel is different to buying an item in store. Seeing an item styled on someone online can give you new ideas
and inspire you more than seeing a single item on a hanger in a shop. In the future, we would love to have a physical shop. It would be an adventure.

IR: What do you think retail will look like in 10 years? For you as a seller but also as a consumer.
PT: We think everything will be faster, from production to delivery. We would hope to see more independent retailers, and it would be nice to see a greater focus on sustainability and a little more transparency from the big brands when it comes to production. We witness first hand the scale of clothing wastage. It’s great to see that people are becoming more open-minded to second hand clothing and this is something that we hope will continue. It’s amazing to think that by reselling an item you have worn and loved, you can let another person get the same joy.

IR: What is your one top tip for being successful on Depop?
PT: Be nice to your customers! Listen to what customers want, and try your best to provide it.

IR: What is your favorite store or designer, on Depop or elsewhere and why?
PT: 90% of our wardrobes are vintage or Past Trash items. It’s great to support other Depop sellers and we love browsing through accounts like @totallycooldad, @grotesquebabydoll and @crocz. Our current favorite shop has to be Reformation. We really respect their ethos, and everything they make is made of high quality fabrics in flattering cuts. Their jeans and summer dresses are always cute and come in a wide range of sizes.

The Irregular Report