This week an increasing amount of UK shops will ‘celebrate’ Black Friday – an annual shopping frenzy sparked by retailers up and down the country slashing prices on the most coveted Christmas presents. Along with Cyber Monday, this day marks the peak of our annual spending and emails are already flying around with huge discounts on offer.
City AM predict that this year in the UK we will spend £566m in one day on bargains of up to 70% off – everything from Xboxes to washing machines, from designer clothes to toys. As the media hype for the day builds we will prepare to spend £385k per minute in the UK alone. Scenes will hit twitter and newspapers will undoubtedly be showing lengthy queues and potentially even customers physically wrestling products from each other. Over the past years in America – where Black Friday has its origins – customers have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure they get the bargains they want; from pepper spraying other shoppers, blindly stepping over the body of another shopper who had suffered a heart attack, and even crushing shop staff to death.
There is nothing wrong with a good bargain some may say, we are a nation who love a discount – but do we really need more stuff? This consumption supernova event has arrived the same week that Forbes has published an article revealing that as a society we now consume 400% more clothing than 20 years ago. That is a fourfold increase in the material goods we are bringing into our wardrobe every year. This is the effect fast fashion has had on our purchasing behaviour – bringing out a new must-have style daily, coupled with driving down prices (and therefore quality) and offering online purchasing in a matter of minutes, making it easier to consume more and spend more. While this spending spree will be eagerly followed up by economists looking for signs of ‘healthy’ Christmas trading, we cannot ignore the figures also making visible the sheer scale of valuable resources needed to make all these often low quality goods with a shorter and shorter lifespans.
The questions we try to grapple with at Antiform are; do we need all these new clothes? In these kind of volumes? How can we love what we already have more, and reinvent or repurpose that which we don’t? How can we restyle clothes from last year or last decade, as well as heritage skills, and still make them relevant today? This is what we strive for with our slow fashion approach, and in so many ways this is the total antithesis of what Black Friday involves – panic buying and a lack of love. The imagery of Black Friday couldn’t be further from the considered shopping experience we want to foster in our brand and in our customers – who really wants to be herded around packed stores, snatching at bargains that in many cases were designed with heavy discounting already factored into their pricing and quality?
As a stand to this mindless consumption we will not only not be taking part in Black Friday sales ourselves but we will also be boycotting the day entirely by closing our online store for 24 hours. Please shop responsibly this Friday.