Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, but it sometimes signifies a week, or even a month, for large discounts and frenzied sales worldwide.
New Zealand is not immune to the now global retail craze. Kiwi shoppers spent $100 million more on Black Friday in 2019 than they did on Boxing Day in the same year. And this year’s Black Friday retail forecast is predicted to grow, with retailers hoping it will turn around months of bad sales due to Covid-19.
While most consumers have come to expect their favourite brands will participate in the day, other brands are shunning the concept in the name of sustainability.
These brands are encouraging their customers to stop mindless spending in favour of slow consumption. And they have a reason to do so, the fashion industry alone makes up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, and 85% of all textiles end up in the landfill yearly.
There are also economic benefits by not participating in sales: customers better recognise the value they are paying for, and margins aren’t reduced in the name of untenable sale prices. It’s also a way to manage inventory issues: there’s no need for stockpiling, or, dare I say it, the destroying of garments via surplus bonfires or sending stock to landfill.
Here are the brands refusing to slash their prices on 27 November 2020:
The purpose behind designer Maggie Hewitt’s brand is to use fashion to create a better world, its mission being to transform the fashion industry to one that is ‘transparent, circular, regenerative and inclusive’.
And Hewitt’s vision for a better world looks like this: “a healthy planet, empowered people and an economy that puts these things first”.
This vision is why Maggie Marilyn recently announced that it no longer offers wholesale to retailers. No longer dictated by traditional rules or feeling pressured to create clothes each season, the brand is now free from “frenzied sale shopping that devalues clothing”.
A certified B Corp, Allbirds believes that business can be a force for good, and balancing purpose with profit is the future of commerce.
It therefore makes complete sense that Allbirds is flipping tradition on Black Friday. Although the brand is dropping special colour-ways in store for the occasion, instead of slashing prices like everyone else, it’s raising them.
On 27 November, prices across the entire Allbirds collection will increase by $1 and be matched by $1 from Allbirds, with the additional proceeds going directly to Fridays For Future, the youth-led international climate movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Speaking exclusively to The Register last month, designer Wynn Crawshaw’s mindful approach aligns with his brand’s values:
“Black Friday’s heavy promotion of discounts doesn’t really sit with the way we are gearing our business. We’re aiming to produce less and have a higher sell-through rate at close to full retail price, which is as much about making money as it is about reducing our waste. We’re considering ways to involve ourselves with our wholesale stockists who take part in these promotions, but only if it’s done in a mindful way that doesn’t prolong fashion’s obsession with regular discounting.”
The decision by Maggie Marilyn, Allbirds and Wynn Hamlyn to not discount product for Black Friday will not necessarily deter their respective customer bases, but instead reinforce the ethos of these well-loved brands, meaning that their loyal customers will grow to appreciate the value of what they are purchasing, and to not expect discounts in future.
As more brands show sustainable leadership and take control of their retail channels, customers will better adapt their mindsets and purchasing habits, helping to effect real change. At present the global environmental crisis is a problem shared between brands and consumers to solve if they choose to, unless there is legislative change.