Can a “sustainable” brand do Black Friday?  It is complicated.

Can a “sustainable” brand do Black Friday? It is complicated.

Want to be more sustainable? Consider Black Friday off the table.

According to Andrew Simms, founder of climate research and campaign group, the Rapid Transition Alliance.

In fact, limiting global warming will force the wealthiest shoppers in wealthy countries like the UK, US and Japan to buy an average of five new clothes a year by 2030, according to a new co-authored report. by the organization.

And yet, Black Friday has become a major marketing moment for brands that claim to oppose everything it stands for, with sustainability-conscious companies adopting clever marketing tactics to enjoy the holidays without condoning them.

The famous outdoor brand Patagonia has released a full-page advertisement in the New York Times telling people not to buy its products in 2011. (The company’s sales jumped more than 30% that year.)

Since then, companies ranging from Allbirds to Deciem have taken a similar approach, using their platform to denounce the trade event while taking full advantage of the buzz generated by their position. This week, resale platform Vestiaire Collective banned high-speed fashion listings, then touted its Black Friday deals as a guilt-free opportunity to “shop sustainably”.

But can a brand really take advantage of the Black Friday marketing frenzy and claim to promote responsible consumption?

Resisting the pressure to join the discount windfall is a big deal, even for brands that don’t want to participate. That’s especially true now, as economic uncertainty prompts buyers to cut spending. Many smaller brands said participating in the sales this year was a necessary compromise, if not a survival tactic.

Loud Bodies, a made-to-measure womenswear brand based in Romania, typically refrains from Black Friday sales, but is offering discounts of up to 50% this year. After months of steady decline, orders have dropped to near zero lately, a trend the brand attributed to shoppers waiting for sales.

“It’s really not an encouragement to overconsume, but rather a hard choice on my part to have to adhere to a tradition that I strongly disapprove of in order to keep the lights on and take care of my team,” wrote founder Patricia. Luiza Blaj. in a lengthy Instagram post.

The biggest brands have tried to navigate the tension by positioning their Black Friday activations as alternatives to the overconsumption frenzy, following the playbook originally presented by Patagonia.

This year, for example, Swedish slow fashion brand Asket emptied its store of new stock to sell exclusively second-hand pieces instead. Along the same lines, London-based Raeburn offers in-store reviews and buybacks for high-quality streetwear pieces, and B-Corp skincare brand Haeckels features small, mission-driven businesses in its store. retail space, instead of its own product. .

The reality is that even the most sustainability-conscious fashion players are still businesses competing for consumer attention, loyalty and spending in an increasingly crowded landscape and dire economic prospects.

A shopping holiday like Black Friday is a great opportunity for brands to achieve this, even when they ostensibly oppose it.

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