Who are we to be making suggestions about what people should and shouldn’t be buying? What gives us the right to call out such a widespread retail phenomenon? Are we just sitting on our high horse with no real appreciation for what people really want?
We’re very wary about what it means to pin our colours so vehemently to the mast. Our aim in expressing the below views is not to make anyone feel bad. Far from it. It’s to help explain the conundrum we’re all in and offer tangible solutions to help us get out of it.
A different notion of value
It’s a particularly tricky time to be questioning the definition of value. For many, savings have become essential, whatever form they might take. In many ways, though, it’s the perfect time to be challenging the status quo. Because the short-sighted, cost-cutting approach is a self-perpetuating cycle that only gets us deeper into a hole. It’s no one’s fault; it’s just a broken system that needs mending.
Our interpretation of value goes way beyond price on the rail. It’s an assessment of how much value a piece of clothing delivers over its lifetime. We like to think of it as price per wear. And when that’s your measure, it makes a lot more sense to buy things that are made to last and supported by things like free repairs to extend their lifecycle as much as possible.
What is a fair price these days?
Black Friday sales – and the growing number of heavily discounted sales cycles across the year - make it almost impossible to figure out what represents fair value. Full price, half price, somewhere in between?
The reality is probably somewhere in between. In the knowledge that most things will be sold at significant discount, brands are forced to inflate initial price tags to a point where future discounts still contain enough margin to make the numbers work. Wouldn’t it be easier if prices were just fair from the outset?
A wolf dressed in sheep's clothing
We’ve already seen how brands are negotiating the uncomfortable territory between encouraging unbridled consumption and the ever-pressing issue of waste and pollution in the fashion world. Many are sugar-coating their Black Friday deals with superficial add-ons that make no material difference in the long run.
Why? Because it’s much easier to tack something onto a bad supply chain that makes it look more sustainable than it is to overhaul that supply chain until it actually is sustainable. This year, brands continue to kick the real issues down the road.
The environmental impact
The sales cycle also has huge environmental implications. It promotes overconsumption at a consumer level and overproduction at a brand level, both of which are devastating for the natural world. Ultimately, it encourages people to buy thoughtlessly and, all too often, needlessly.
What can we do differently?
We’re not advocating that you don’t buy anything. We are a business after all. But we think brands need to take more responsibility for what they produce, and consumers need to take more responsibility for what they buy. Don’t forget – if it’s of little expense to you, it’s probably of great expense to someone or something else. People or the planet.
What we're doing to change the system
- Using static pricing that is fair from the outset.
- Thinking about and addressing our impact at every stage of the supply chain.
- Exclusively using low-impact, responsibly sourced, natural materials.
- Banning single use plastics at every stage from the factory to our customer's doors.
- Offering free repairs to extend the lifecycle of our clothing.
- Eradicating stock wastage by having permanent collections.
Things you can do to help
- Look for brands that advocate static, transparent pricing.
- Buy better things, less often.
- Hold brands to account.
- Reject big sales days.
- Help spread this message.