Poshmark: Shopping to Fight Labor Exploitation
The practices of fashion and apparel brands have long been cast in the shadows, hidden from the public eye. The rise of fast fashion and subsequent drop in clothing prices has distracted customers from acknowledging the lack of information regarding their clothing and the production process that created it. However, in recent years, the lack of transparency surrounding apparel brands has become an increasingly prevalent topic.
The rebirth of this dialogue is, in part, thanks to the Fashion Revolution, and their publication of the Fashion Transparency Index in both 2016 and 2017. The 2017 Transparency Index ranks and assigns grade percentages to 100 of the top global brands based on their transparency, and their willingness to publicly disclose information regarding their policies, production, and global impact, among other key topics. Within these categories, the lowest average score was for brands’ minimal disclosure of their suppliers, resulting in the common theme of lack of traceability within the garment industry.
Such murkiness surrounding the path our clothing takes to end up at the store we purchased it from can turn shopping into a convoluted process and make buying exploitation-free mainstream apparel seem impossible.
One way we can guarantee that the money we spend on clothing is not helping to support brands that utilize forced labor in their production processes is by purchasing apparel secondhand. The most accessible approach to shopping for pre-owned clothing that I have come across is through Poshmark.
Poshmark is a virtual marketplace, accessible on the web or through the free app (iOS and Android), that provides users with a platform for buying and selling new and gently used apparel and accessories for men, women, and children.
Getting started with Poshmark is simple. After creating an account, which can be done through your Facebook or Google account, you are given the opportunity to personalize your Poshmark experience. This includes adding details like a profile picture and specifications such as your gender and sizes for shoes, dresses, pants, and tops. The final step before your browsing begins is to choose up to 50 brands that you want to follow from the extensive list of names that can be found on Poshmark, ranging from Nasty Gal to Michael Kors, Nike to Prada, and just about everything in between.
How it Works:
Clothing and accessories - including jewelry, handbags, shoes, swimwear, and more - are posted by Poshmark users as listings with photos, along with the item description and price. All sales go through Poshmark, which sends the seller shipping labels following a purchase.
Navigation and Usage:
Usage of the app is straightforward and playful. The design follows the construction of a basic social media platform in its visual layout and navigation. The main page is your feed, which is composed of listings posted by other users and is personalized to you based on the brands and other users you follow. You can shop your feed, search for certain items and styles, or browse by brand.
If you come across an item that you are interested in but not fully convinced you want to buy it, you can “like” it to easily revisit later or comment on the listing to communicate with the seller.
Pricing, Purchasing, and Shipping:
Listing prices vary across the app based on the seller and the brand of the item. Some sellers are open to offers or even trades, and many offer a discount for “bundling”, or buying multiple items. Purchasing an item is quick and simple, as payments can be made through Apple Pay or Paypal.
All Poshmark sales are shipped through USPS priority and will ring you a flat rate of $6.49 regardless of your location. Following a purchase, sellers have seven days to ship items, but Poshmark estimates that the majority ship within 3 days.
All purchases are secured by Poshmark through “Posh Protect”, the organization and policies set by Poshmark to protect buyers from fraud. When you make a purchase, your payment is collected by Poshmark and is not received by the seller until your order has arrived. If, when you receive your order, you discover flaws that were not represented by the seller, you have three days to submit a claim to Poshmark and, if your claim is accepted, Poshmark will provide you with a return shipping label and a full refund.
The Final Verdict:
Like any other buying and selling platform, Poshmark isn’t perfect, but the criticisms I have formed are few. One drawback is the fact that Poshmark takes a commission of all sales, which amounts to $2.95 for sales under $15 and 20% of sales $15 or more. For shoppers, however, the prices are generally low. Although pricing varies across listings, some items can be found at up to 70% off retail price and I love the flat-rate for all shipping.
Another frustration is the tendency of some users to post pictures taken directly from company websites instead of photographs they have taken themselves of the specific item they are selling, which makes it difficult to know exactly what the product would look like if you were to order it. This is especially frustrating because Poshmark does not allow for returns, making all sales final except in the instance of damaged items.
Despite the few downsides associated with my experience on Poshmark, my final verdict, after having used the app for a week, is positive. The Poshmark app provides a convenient, entertaining, and trustworthy platform for purchasing and selling a wide array of apparel and accessories. I can definitely see myself continuing to utilize this platform as a means of refreshing my closet without concerns that my money is helping perpetuate labor exploitations within the garment industry.
About the Author
Morgan Wiersma is a student at Chicago City Colleges, where she plans to finish her Associate in Arts this spring before beginning to pursue an undergrad in Creative Nonfiction and Social Sciences. She calls her cozy apartment in downtown Chicago home and lives with her dwarf rabbit, Lola. A coffee enthusiast and avid writer, Morgan also enjoys small art projects, tea candles, and oversized flannel shirts.