Depop is Bringing Virtual Thrifting to Gaming With The Sims
Vogue Business | June 30, 2022
Depop is partnering with The Sims to bring seller-designed virtual clothing to the in-game world, and encourage secondhand shopping in the physical one. In a new expansion pack aimed at teens called “High School Years”, The Sims players can purchase Depop clothing with in-game currency, and will be rewarded for reselling their outfits via a new Sims app called Trendi, where they will determine pricing and promote their listings, mirroring Depop’s IRL experience.
The peer-to-peer resale platform is one of the first secondhand sites to dive into digital clothing and appear in a virtual world. The Sims and Depop created a range of digital apparel to provide in the experience. Additionally, five top Depop sellers from the US, UK and Australia were tapped to create three custom pieces each, with some inspired by pieces they had produced themselves for their actual Depop stores and other pieces inspired by secondhand or vintage pieces, says brand director Steve Dool.
The sellers were chosen with an emphasis on global representation and for having a distinct aesthetic recognisable among those who follow their Depop shops. Dool calls digital upcycling a “really amazing challenge”. “The beauty of a project like this is that there are no boundaries on each sellers’ creativity, so they were able to dream up their fantasy upcycled, vintage or custom pieces,” he says. “Upcycling digitally mirrors the process in the real world, using vintage and secondhand items as a creative starting point and then customising and tweaking them from there.”
A multi-brand, secondhand clothing platform is difficult to replicate exactly in virtual worlds: in the physical world, secondhand items are typically one-of-a-kind, not sold in multiples, and owned by sellers, rather than the platform itself. Replicating clothing that is inspired by brands’ own designs also raises questions around IP and legality, which pose challenges for multi-brand retailers and resale sites entering the metaverse in the same way that brands have. To get around that, Depop is emphasising the personality-driven elements of its platform, which rewards sellers — the most successful of whom are more akin to influencers — for creative merchandising, rather than directly recreating the Depop experience.
The Sims, which launched in 2000, is owned by gaming company Electronic Arts, and was an early example of a virtual, immersive world. It has since enjoyed renewed interest as fashion gravitates toward metaverse experiences, and this partnership is one of the first times that The Sims has enabled players to select and buy individual items of clothing.