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  • Claire Kalikman


HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MANY COMPANIES ARE PASSING ON BLACK FRIDAY? Ecoalf, Spain’s circular fashion icon and first B Corp certified company, was an early adopter - should that be early rejecter? They’ve never gone in for the Black Friday discount frenzy.

Image via WDPH

This year, they stepped it up a notch inviting another Fashion Revolution, Wardrobe Crisis and another brand that’s long been campaigning for an alternative approach tot he sale season - Raeburn, to get together and brainstorm the problems and the solutions. The result? A webinar/panel discussion called “Voices United for a Planet Beyond Next Season” featuring Ecoalf’s founder Javier Goyeneche, Christopher Raeburn, and Fashion Revolution’s cofounder Orsola de Casto, moderated by Clare Press. Missed it? Catch up below.

What’s so wrong with Black Friday, anyway? We all like to get stuff for cheap, no? Well, there are’s a few problems. Black Friday discourages us from truly caring about our clothes, which leads us to buy clothes just to throw them away. Sales events like this push quantity over quality, when already enough stuff out there.

Javier Goyeneche, founder / president of Ecoalf.

Black Friday encourages mindless consumption. It an excuse for companies to overproduce and under price and, as most of us know, someone must pay the true cost. It’s not the corporations. Often, it’s the already poorly paid garment workers, who now have to produce even faster and for less money. And it’s the environment. But did you know that YOU (the shopper) also often loses? Many brands manufacture product especially for the sale period- it’s not really discounted at all, but was produced to be sold cheap.

Clare Press opened with bit of history: although Black Friday has been around since the 1940s (and refers to the retailers’ profit margins, which are “in the black” instead of “in the red”), it only became the most popular shopping day in 2001. While it started in the US, it has turned into a global phenomenon. And - according to this survey anyway - 12% of shoppers admit to shopping after drinking. Drunken sale shopping is always a bad idea. Herewith, our top takeaways:

1. SUSTAINABILITY MEANS THINKING ABOUT THE WHOLE SYSTEM Javier Goyeneche pointed out that, “many people think sustainability just means using a sustainable fabric. But the model also has to be sustainable.” One of the main problems of this system is that, “a lot of the pressure of the discount is going onto the shoulders of the producers.”

2. TOO MUCH FASHION ENDS UP IN THE BIN You know this, right? But did you know exactly how much? Christopher Raeburn noted that the fashion industry “manufactures 100 billion garments a year and 20% never get sold. And then we manufacture all the stuff to go into a sale period.” Yes, many companies manufacture expressly for Black Friday at a lower cost, so you’re not really getting a deal because the clothes were always made to be sold for that price. Goyeneche added that, “61% of clothes are returned. It’s a way of consumption that makes no sense.” And did you also know that it’s cheaper for some brands to just throw away returns?

3. BUT… SALES ARE NOT INHERENTLY BAD But aren’t we being a little elitist, asked Clare Press? Obviously sales make many items more affordable for more people. Orsola de Castro said Fashion Revolution agrees - read their blog here on the subject. But, she said, that doesn’t change the fact that rampant sale culture exacerbates the system problems of an excessive and exploitative fashion system. “We have to antagonise the system of excess, not the sale itself. We have to look at Black Friday in the context of overproduction and exploitation.” If you really need something and you can afford it once it’s on sale, that’s fine. But it’s the frenzy and madness of Black Friday, all the returns, the lack of thoughtfulness that is so concerning. By Claire Kalikman.

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