Drama Descends Upon TikTok’s Thrifting Community
The seller behind Jack’s Vntg has been at the center of a debate around the ethics of vintage resale after posting a thrift store haul on Tiktok.Entertainment
Clutch your vintage pearls and your freshly upholstered Coach purse from the 70s: Drama has descended upon ThiftTok. The secondhand-obsessed corner of TikTok has been in uproar against one particular user, @jbwells, who runs the Depop store Jack’s Vntg. There, she sells items that she herself has thrifted, and for prices much higher than she paid. As Buzzfeed reports, critics of her entrepreneurship are taking a particular problem with her practice of “upselling,” which they consider to be opportunistic and greedy. Some have even gone as far as to call her a “mini landlord” (more on that later), while others have denounced “resell culture” in its entirety. And still, many have defended her, saying that what she’s doing is no different than selling antiques.
Trouble started when Jack posted a TikTok of her thrift hauls late last month, where she modeled a quilted skirt and a fur coat she’d recently bought, among hundreds of other items. She later sold those two pieces on her Depop store for $175 and $35 respectively. Since Jack posted the video on January 24, it’s amassed 5.9 million views, sparking the debate around the ethics of her business.
the first jacket is everything
Some are denying the fact that Jack’s practice of upselling is “work” and instead consider it “inconsiderate exploitation.” Others are defending her upselling as a better alternative to those clothes eventually ending up in a landfill, which are often located in developing countries. (For example, the fast fashion industry is responsible for the worsening environmental crisis in Ghana.) Some are saying that “Depop girls” going into thrift stores in low-income neighborhoods, buying things in bulk, and selling those items for three to four times more expensive than its thrift price, is its own form of fashion “gentrification.” Others, still, are throwing around the word “scalper” to describe Jack’s business model.
But sustainable fashion activist Venitia La Manna told Buzzfeed that the internet’s outrage towards people like Jack is misdirected. “A lot of these people that we’re getting annoyed about for thrifting and then jacking up the prices on Depop, these are predominantly young women who are ultimately not doing anything that harmful,” La Manna said. “They’re not working for Amazon or Shein. This isn’t an influencer using an affiliate link to get you to buy from Nasty Gal or Revolve. They’re not forcing you to buy anything.”
Of the many criticisms that have been slewed Jack’s way, it seems like what’s really grinding people’s gears is the idea that she’s making money without doing any “real” work. But the people throwing out these complaints don’t seem to want to admit that they aren’t as willing to spend their weekends digging through old clothes in the hopes of finding a gem or two. Curation, as much as it is an art, is also labor.
“The problem with not respecting and acknowledging the labor of others is rife in our society but ESPECIALLY in the conversation about fashion,” writer Aja Barber, a fashion consultant who writes extensively about sustainable fashion, posted in a Twitter thread Thursday morning. “It is there when people expect unreasonably low prices for clothes. It’s there when people get mad at resellers.”
Barber expanded on the labor that goes into sourcing clothes for resale, which includes “early mornings” and “clothes that smell.” “I know I couldn’t do it for a living,” she wrote. “Which means that if a reseller finds something that I like, I’m happy to pay for their labor.”
Jack started her resale shop in 2022 when she was 16 and she and her sister were living on their own—and she says thrifting and reselling helped her get through college. “Like most resellers, i am not rich. I grew up thrifting and relying on second hand clothing,” she explained in an Instagram post in response to the backlash. “I started Jack’s Vntg in February of 2022, still in school, with $100 to my name, and a lot of hope. […] Not to sound dramatic, but it saved my life. I was able to pay my bills, eat, and survive on my own as an 18 year old.”
At the end of the day, Jack stands by the good that vintage resale does for society: “Reselling pushes circular fashion, sustainable consumption, and helps low income individuals earn a living wage off of endless clothing.”