It’s that time of year again, Black Friday weekend. One of the many displays of overconsumption and waste culture performed by retailers, every year.
Annually, on the last Friday of November, we are exposed to a multitude of marketing that glorifies the idea of mass consumption and impulse buying. The fashion industry is a major player in this, adopting the habit of discount culture and using huge price reductions to create hysteria. Starting out as a single day to bag a bargain, Black Friday now extends itself across several weeks, encouraging consumers to purchase things, simply for the sake of it.
Whilst Black Friday can be the perfect opportunity to purchase an essential item you have been saving up for, it is important to remember the damaging effects this holiday has on both people and planet.
With fashion being the second most polluting industry in the world, systemic overconsumption is one of the biggest threats our planet faces. The current fashion system thrives on a marketing strategy that encourages consumers to buy things they do not need. An impulse buy may give you an initial buzz, but once that has passed, you will probably find yourself discarding these items or pushing them to the back of your closet. Not only is this a waste of money, it also promotes throwaway culture.
Excessive discounting can put huge amounts of pressure on supply chains and garment factories. In a bid to offer the lowest prices, brands sacrifice the fair treatment of garment workers, in order to challenge competitive retailers. An example of this comes from last year’s Black Friday events, when fast fashion giants Pretty Little Thing boasted a 99% off sale, offering items for as little as 5p! The idea that they can still make a profit from this, means that people in the supply chain have been heavily exploited.
Ways To Be A Conscious Consumer:
Support independent businesses
Many independent ethical businesses run their own promotions over the Black Friday weekend, providing you with your new purchase buzz without the guilt! Small brands create their designs in limited batches, often by hand, meaning there is reduced waste and you can be assured that they were made in safe, fair working conditions.
Invest in high quality, statement pieces.
Black Friday can be the perfect opportunity to invest in the statement piece you have been eyeing up. Slow, ethically made garments can often be more expensive than fast fashion - for good reason! It will be made with the planet in mind, using only the highest quality materials to ensure maximum wear. If your favourite ethical designer has a sale on, this could be your chance to invest in an unique item you wouldn't usually be able to afford.
Avoid being sucked into discount culture
Often, when an item is heavily discounted it is easy to convince yourself to buy it - thinking that you would be missing out on a massive saving if you don’t! However, it is important to be aware that many brands use Black Friday to discard unwanted stock - meaning the items on sale are often old stock they couldn't shift, or in some cases, cheaply made items made specifically for sitewide sales!
Before making a purchase this weekend, take a second to answer the following questions:
How many wears will I get out of this item?
Yes it can be exhilarating to get your fast fashion fix, but how often will you realistically wear this item? If the answer is less than 20 times, you probably don’t need it. The average person only wears a garment 7-10 times before discarding it - ouch!
Do I really need it?
Before browsing the Black Friday sales, have a look through your current wardrobe at what you already own. Do you really need another black dress? Appreciating the clothes in your closet can stop you from making unnecessary purchases, purely for the sake of buying! It also helps you to only invest in the items you need.
Would I buy this item if it wasn’t on sale?
If the answer is no, don’t buy itl! After all, there is no greater discount than spending nothing at all. Buying an item purely because it’s on sale, knowing you probably won't wear it, is exactly what brands want you to do - don’t fall into the trap! Only invest in items you know you want, you will thank yourself later.
Remember to shop consciously this Black Friday weekend and support independent businesses where possible!