Cheap Chinese clothes and accessories are being sold on Instagram at large mark-ups by bedroom entrepreneurs — often teenagers — who dress them up to resemble boutique products.
Thousands of “drop-shippers” advertise items that they don’t own, hold or dispatch. The middlemen find goods on Chinese websites and pay small sums to market them on the picture-sharing app with photos and captions that lend a high-quality appearance.
As orders come in, they pass them directly to the Chinese suppliers, who ship them. The marketers, who are often teenagers who learnt their trade via YouTube tutorials, take a hefty percentage and have low overheads, requiring only the social media skills to show their wares to good advantage.