I love a bargain. I hate feeling like I’ve over paid for something. It’s the worst. So it might surprise you that I kinda hate Black Friday. You will never find me waiting in line for a deal the day after Thanksgiving. Crowds are not my thing, and there’s something really icky to me about shopping when things aren’t neat and tidy. I feel gross and in turn, I feel like what I’ve bought is tainted by that feeling as well. It’s just not as special. Here are 5 reasons why I’ve decided Black Friday and other sale events like it aren’t for me, and why we don’t participate.
1 | Black Friday is Wasteful
Wait! you say. Isn’t a sale great? Doesn’t it help you get rid of excess inventory? Don’t you want to make room for new product?
Let me put it this way. If you are having to do wholesale clearance because you have too much product there are some major things wrong. Having that much inventory is symptomatic of over-production or over-buying, depending on your business. When I used to sell to stores, we always had to make more product just in case there were re-orders or something went wrong. Inevitably, we would end up producing too much product and it would just sit at the end of the season.
It wasn’t that the clothes were bad, but there were just too many. Unless you have unlimited storage, you need a way to get rid of them. Hence, a sale. Every designer faces this challenge. You always end up with excess inventory, whether it’s fabric or finished product. That tells me that there’s something wrong about the fashion system. It creates too much waste.
2 | Black Friday Teaches Us that Clothes Don’t Have Value
Black Friday and our constant need to buy things on sale has taught us that the clothes we buy are not worth their retail price.
Let me counter that with the idea that clothes shouldn’t be cheap. Everything you are wearing was made by another human. Their time and labor are worth something. Do you know how many hours it takes to make a dress? What should the person making that item earn? Probably a lot more than they are being paid.
Also, many retails stores are failing because they aren’t making enough money to keep their doors open. They usually have too much inventory/overhead for the amount of volume they are able to sell. Does it make their product bad? Not necessarily, but it’s an inefficient business model that makes it almost impossible to survive.
3 | Black Friday Teaches Us that Clothes Have an Expiration Date
Clothes don’t spoil or at least, they shouldn’t. There isn’t a “wear by” date stamped on them. Yes, Fashion with a capital “F” changes, but have you tried keeping up with the trends lately? It’s impossible and every season it seems like a new decade is back in style that was just back in style a few years prior. It’s exhausting.
I’m not saying to not update your wardrobe or follow any trends, but do we really need to add keeping up with the Kardashians to our over-saturated and over-scheduled lives? Not sure about you, but I don’t.
4 | Creating Clothes Just for Black Friday is STUPID
Did you know that many companies now produce excess inventory just for Black Friday and other big sale days? No, they aren’t just getting rid of old or excess inventory, they are creating product specifically to discount it.
How do I know? Because we did it too.
Back when we first had our big Annual Sale, we were just getting rid of excess, but as the years went on, we had less and less to sell at that sale. In order to have enough product, we would make excess knowing that it was just for our sale. When you stop and think about that, it’s silly. Why should I create more product just to sell it at a margin that doesn’t allow my business to thrive and support my employees?
My answer to this after realizing how counter intuitive that was was to look at what we were making. Why did I have excess? Was the product not made well or fit well? Did we just not have enough customers to buy the amount we were producing? Answering those questions has really made us much more efficient and streamlined about what and how much we make. Styles that I know will last for years (like our ever-present Taylor or Cienega Dresses) we can make in bulk and they don’t need to be discounted. We always need them and we usually don’t have as much as I’d like in stock because of their popularity.
I’ve also spent a lot of time figuring out who our customer is and what she wants. It’s a lot of work, but it’s made me a better designer and a better producer. If we tried to have a sale right now, it would probably only last an hour because we really don’t have that much excess, and our production team is so busy with custom orders that we couldn’t even begin to think about making more to just have a sale, even if I wanted to do that!
5 | Black Friday Robs Our Loyal Clients of Perks
We’re a small business and we don’t have a big marketing or advertising budget. We are very careful about what we spend. By shifting away from a model that relies on clearance sales to survive, we can then put that money back into our clients. Those who shop with us regularly know that we like to give perks or do special things for those who are loyal. I would much rather be able to reward and thank those clients than let them feel like they weren’t valued because someone is wearing the same top that they purchased at full price that was on sale for 80% off. That just doesn’t seem fair to me.
We have also been in the position more in recent history because of events like Harvey where we have been able to help people in need of clothes. Instead of those clothes going on a sale rack, they have gone directly to the closets of people who have lost everything. That makes me feel good and I know that that energy goes out into the world in a better way.
All this to say that no matter what you think about sales or Black Friday, this just what I believe. Does this mean that we will never do a promotion or that I don’t buy things personally that are on sale? No, but it does make me a much more conscious consumer. When I lived in Paris, there were legally only 2 sales a year. It made me really think about what I wanted and why I wanted it. It made me invest in clothes that have lasted me for over 15 years at this point. When there was a sale, I could then think about treating myself to something that wasn’t needed but was a nice little perk.
Tell me, what are your thoughts on Black Friday? Do you shop differently now than you used to shop? Do you shop with small businesses or bigger retailers? I’d love to hear from you!