Black Friday, that annual day of massive shopping sprees at irresistible prices, has taken the world by storm, driving retailers to compete fiercely with tempting offers.
However, as we celebrate the sales, it is crucial to reflect on the economic and environmental implications of this event, a long list of which reduced profit margins and the encouragement of impulsive consumption are just the tip of the iceberg.
In the current context, there is an urgent need to explore more sustainable alternatives to Black Friday, rethinking our practices to prioritise social and environmental responsibility. This article aims to inspire fashion companies to challenge themselves and their customers to adopt more ethical approaches.
Renew or die
Black Friday can be transformed into a unique opportunity for fashion companies, as this day allows them to use their influence to encourage more responsible consumption. However, this call for responsibility must be aligned with the company's core values, avoiding greenwashing practices that could undermine the authenticity of the brand.
If we consider the direction the industry is moving in and the eminent regulations in the European Union regarding the circulation and circularity of garments, embracing more responsible alternatives would be the equivalent of "renew or die" when it comes to the future of the fashion industry.
Initiatives that break with the tradition of Black Friday
Returns represent a major challenge for the retail industry due to the associated costs and complexity of inventory management, among other things. According to data from ORG Sustainable Delivery, 50 percent of items purchased during Black Friday will end up being returned, so encouraging responsible consumption could reduce returns while maintaining a healthy level of sales, resulting in significant benefits to operational efficiency and profitability.
In this sense, encouraging rental, second-hand and repair are interesting alternatives to encourage consumption guided by quality rather than quantity.
Under the slogan "Stop buying, start repairing", Veja, known for making transparency, sustainability and social ethics part of its DNA, offers free repairs to shoes of any brand at four of its locations in Spain, Germany and France. This initiative, consistent with its values, reinforces its commitment to sustainability and the promotion of responsible practices in the industry.
Having sales would be pointless
Spanish clothing brand Mutitaa will not lower its prices on Black Friday, but will raise the price of all its products by 10 euros on that day.
"We created Mutitaa to help Cambodian people with functional diversity and at risk of social exclusion. We can't have sales, it wouldn't make sense. That's why, instead of lowering prices, we will raise them for them," said Elena Tarín, a volunteer for the company in Cambodia.
"The Battambang textile hub has to cope with rising energy costs, which are affecting it significantly. That is why, today more than ever, it is important that the fruits of the Mutitaa project reach Cambodia in full, without discounts or rebates of any kind", he added.
Discounts ‘for when you need them’
Sepiia is a Spanish brand that offers timeless products of premium quality that, influenced by its CEO's previous training in industrial design, are intelligent garments designed to adapt to everyday needs, which don't get dirty, don't smell... and are also eco-designed so that the products maintain their properties but are totally circular and can be recycled at the end of their useful life.
Without half-measures, they've announced a 25 percent discount across the shop for Black Friday, but encourage their consumers that even if they can get their hands on the garments at a more affordable price now, use their discount now and get it "when you need it".
Ecoalf for its part has dawned a banner akin to the one that usually advertises sales reading "Black Friday - 0 percent off, break your habit, not the planet", attempting to inform consumers instead of driving them to its product catalogue.
‘It's time to break the habit, not the planet’
The average person consumes approximately 15 kilograms of clothing each year, which adds up to more than one tonne in your lifetime. Black Friday encourages people to buy things they don't need by promoting overconsumption. If we continue at this rate, by 2032 we can expect a 305 percent growth in global Black Friday sales. Every thoughtless click on "add to cart" contributes to your growing pile, but more importantly, it adds to the planet's growing mountains of discarded clothing.
"It's time to break the habit, not the planet. It's time to add less to the cart and more to the Earth. Join Ecoalf this Recycle Black Friday to redefine how we consume, take responsibility for our choices and save the only planet we call home," Ecoalf's online shop stated.
As a protest against Black Friday in Sweden, an initiative called Circular Monday was born in 2017 that seeks to give visibility to those business models that are committed to a circular economy. In other words, they do not produce more, but use what has already been made. The aim is not to condemn the companies that participate in Black Friday, but to show alternative consumption, that another way of doing things is possible.