The Danger Of Fast Fashion Discounts.
Last week was Black Friday. At CULTED, we have spoken at length about Black Friday and the issues surrounding sustainability and fast fashion. One of the main culprits is PrettyLittleThing. PrettyLittleThing (PLT), owned by Boohoo PLC Group went viral for the incredibly high discounts on their website. On Black Friday, they offered deals up to 99% off with dresses sold for 8p and high-heeled shoes for 25p.
PrettyLittleThing, as well as Boohoo (parents company of brands including BoohooMAN, Nasty Gal, Miss Pap, Karen Millen, and Oasis), are no strangers to controversy. PLT and Boohoo have been accused many times of unsavoury work conditions, stealing designs from smaller brands, and reportedly flat out underpaying their workers. In July of this year, they were accused of modern slavery after garment workers in Leicester were said to be paid only £3.50 an hour, far below the UK minimum wage. In addition, the alleged working conditions are said to have spread the rise of COVID-19 in Leicester, which may have contributed to their city-wide lockdown at the end of June 2020. They have been called out in the political sphere and slammed by the press on multiple occasions.
The argument for these sales is that people can’t always afford high-fashion brands, so these sales help people with less disposable income have access to trendy clothing. However, that goes against protecting those who work in the conditions that Boohoo and PLT have been accused of.
The younger generation, that often brings up environmental concerns towards fast fashion, continuously flock to these sort of brands. Boohoo and PLT target audience is women aged 16-30. So why do they shop there? It may be due to the countless sponsored posts from celebrities and influencers such as the mega-deal signed between PLT and Love Island contestant Molly Mae. It could also be the sheer availability of their product, continuously dropping look after look onto their site. Or perhaps it’s the social media presence of Umar Kamani, founder/CEO of PLT, who posts competitions as well as retweets those who are able to snag a good deal from his brand.
The backlash over the Black Friday discounts is rather quiet for a brand of their size. Aside from fashion insiders and environmental experts, a quick search on Twitter for the brand finds people flaunting their sales purchases instead of condemning them. One user brazenly tweeted they ordered around “£600 worth (of clothing) for less than £8.50” from the brand. We all get excited by discounts and sales, particularly if it’s something you’ve lusted after for a while, however, the pride in posting about these sales is incredibly worrying. It may be people are not as up to date on the issues surrounding these brands, or the extent of the current climate crisis we are in. Or perhaps they are aware and it isn’t a concern for them.
Defending the Black Friday sale, Umar Kamani tweeted “When we do 99% off we take a loss on those lines. We don’t pay people less.” However, people may feel that this heavily discounted sale could contribute to the rising phenomenon of throwaway runaway culture.
Furthermore, a PrettyLittleThing spokesman stated, “After a bleak 2020 for most of us, we wanted to offer something competitive and understand people may be spending less in what is usually peak shopping season.” PrettyLittleThing has continued with their heavily discounted sales with ‘Pink Monday’ for Cyber Monday, with “up to 80% off absolutely everything”. The issue here is that a fast-fashion dress, even at its regular price of £8, is difficult to produce ethically or sustainably.
So why are fast-fashion discounts bad? For one, it is bad for waste management, fast fashion increases the likelihood of clothing ending up in landfill, worsening the climate crisis in the process. The fashion industry needs to focus on slower consumption to help protect the environment. This can be done through vintage shopping, reducing our own personal consumption, and holding fast-fashion brands to account.
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See also: SHOULD WE CANCEL BLACK FRIDAY?