The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

How to Spot Fake Secondhand Fashion Scams on Resale Sites

Fake secondhand listings on Poshmark for a white corduroy jacket from Shein

With the ever-growing demand for secondhand fashion online, it’s no surprise that the wave of hyper-fast fashion has weaseled its way into our favorite secondhand shopping apps: Depop and Poshmark. If you’re anything like YouTuber trollfunk, you may have noticed some listings on Depop that feel a little… strange. Maybe you have seen several listings on your favorite resale app that have the same exact photos, or just listings that don’t seem quite right. 

This is because these listings are brand-new items from fast-fashion retailers that are sold under the guise of secondhand fashion, through a practice that is known as drop shipping

When a seller on Depop or Poshmark uses drop shipping, they do not have the item they are selling in stock, physically. These sellers only purchase the item from a third-party retailer, such as Shein or Aliexpress, after they’ve made a sale to someone like you on a resale platform. The item is then shipped directly to the buyer (i.e. you). The seller never even touches the item that they supposedly sourced themselves secondhand and are “re-selling” on Depop or Poshmark.

Not all dropshipping is bad—small designers, boutiques, and businesses can and do use drop shipping as a method of sale. But it provides a way for factories and middlemen to resell new items from major fast-fashion retailers, and pass them off as sustainable.

In this context, dropshipping goes against the philosophy set forth by fashion resale apps, many of whom state that sustainability is part of their mission or credo. From a seller’s standpoint, it is a genius way to generate profits, as most of the items are marked up over 100% of the original listed price. But it goes against the values of conscious consumers by providing a new, sneaky outlet for fast fashion. 

Clues That an Item Might be Drop-Shipped From a Fast Fashion Retailer

Although there are no cut-and-dry guidelines for identifying drop-shipped listings, there are some indicators when looking at a listing on Depop or Poshmark:

The description states that it will take weeks for the item to ship.  This is not always true, in the case that someone is selling a handmade item that takes time to produce. But you should be able to tell the difference between a factory-made and handmade item. (And the handmade item will be expensive!)

No photos of the actual item, just e-commerce photos. This indicates that the seller does not personally have the inventory, so they can’t include any photos of the actual item. You can also look for many listings that have the exact same e-commerce photos

Item is available in a large size range. While inclusivity is an important component of creating true sustainability in fashion, true secondhand items are often just one item sold in a single size.

The seller is a “boutique” on Poshmark. We’ll get into this more later, but boutique sellers have found a workaround in Poshmark’s guidelines that allows the sale of drop-shipped items from fast fashion retailers. Again, it is important to consider this carefully, as some small designers or clothing makers label themselves as a boutique.

What’s up with Depop and Dropship?

Previously, Depop had a large issue with sellers dropshipping from Aliexpress and Shein, but has since banned the sale of drop shipped catalog items, “for the purpose of quality, creativity and sustainability.” Considering that Depop refers to itself as a, “community-powered fashion ecosystem that’s kinder on the planet and kinder to people,” its move makes sense. 

Refinery 29’s report on Depop’s dropshipping issue reveals that their Trust & Safety team is “continuing to root out dropshippers on the platform by using ‘a combination of manual and automated enforcement’ and taking action on all user reports that they receive.”

It appears that Depop has regained control over dropshipped items, for the most part. Much of the “talk” regarding Depop’s dropshipping problem is not current, but keep your eyes peeled when shopping on Depop for the clues I’ve listed above, just in case. 

Poshmark, on the other hand, is a completely different ballgame. 

What are Poshmark’s guidelines on dropshipping?

It is important to clarify that Poshmark is not exclusively a secondhand shopping platform, and therefore permits sellers to use dropshipping or wholesale if they are tagged as a boutique. 

Guidelines specify that Boutique pieces are items that have “been purchased wholesale or directly from a distributor and are being sold to the public for the first time.” These items appear completely normal to Poshmark because, as far as they know, these items are simply just wholesale items for Boutique sellers. But it doesn’t take much to see that these fraudulent secondhand items are not like other listings being sold on Poshmark. 

They use e-commerce photos that they obviously did not take themselves, to be blunt. Of course, there could be some photography wizzes selling on the app, but it’s hard to mistake the highly stylized, photoshopped images used by Shein as anything a reseller would create. Not to mention, the same images are used over and over by dropshippers on the app, which actually violates Poshmark’s community guidelines on photo permissions

These guidelines state explicitly that sellers should not upload images that they did not take themselves, or that they do not have the rights to use. Reverse image searching reveals that many of the “new with tags” items sold from boutique sellers are currently being sold on Shein. 

Similar to dropshipping on other resale platforms, there is often a severe markup in price. The below images show a jacket on Poshmark that is listed at $98, while Shein is selling it for $23.

Poshmark does currently authenticate luxury or designer items worth over $500 through their Posh Authenticate system, but it does not appear that this authentication extends beyond the luxury realm to verifying that pre-owned items are truly pre-owned. It’s unclear whether these items actually violate guidelines enough to receive attention from Poshmark executives, or that Poshmark even cares, as long as it’s making a bit off of each sale.

Regardless, these listings are still a form of deception, masquerading as Boutiques on Poshmark when they are actually Shein items with a massive markup. Poshmark users deserve better than this — it’s a ripoff, plain and simple.

Aside from this severe markup, these sellers are co-opting the sustainable fashion movement, preying on the desire to shop responsibly on secondhand fashion platforms. Sellers that choose to dropship from Shein, Aliexpress, or other fast fashion giants are directly supporting the abuse and overall subjugation of garment makers involved in the manufacturing of these goods.

What can shoppers on Depop and Poshmark do about fake secondhand items?

If you spot something that might be a fake secondhand item, or an item that may be drop shipped from a fast fashion retailer, be sure to report it. Reporting suspicious items can ensure that dropshipping can stay under control, or at least make platforms aware that these types of listings are unwanted. If sellers on Poshmark are using photos that are obviously not their own, users can report the listing for photo usage violations or “spam.”

Aside from reporting, you should avoid buying these items if possible. By supporting sellers that are primarily dropshipping fast fashion items, you are consuming fast fashion directly — and at a markup at that. It’s a scam for you, for the garment workers, and for the planet. 

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