Shoppers continue to seek out the best deals during the Black Friday weekend, but the instant gratification of a bargain and the growing need for sustainability in the fashion sector are very much at loggerheads.

At a time when the fashion industry is striving to reduce waste, promote slow fashion, and embrace sustainability, the irony of Black Friday cannot be ignored, especially as it lands just days before COP28.

One significant development in the pursuit of sustainable fashion comes from Vestiaire Collective, a luxury resale platform, which recently made headlines for taking a stand against what it describes as “fast fashion” brands.

In a bold move, Vestiaire Collective banned major players such as Swedish fashion retailer H&M, Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo, Spanish fashion label Mango and Inditex’s Zara from its platform, citing its commitment to the fight against fashion waste.

The timing of this move was deliberate as the luxury resale platform described Black Friday as a date “where consumption will skyrocket, especially of fast fashion.”

This decision challenges the conventional narrative of Black Friday, as these fast fashion brands are excluded from a platform dedicated to a more sustainable approach to consumerism.

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By GlobalData

Vestiaire Collective’s decision is a clear signal that some members of the fashion industry are re-evaluating practices. It underscores the need for a shift away from the disposable, trend-driven model kept alive by Black Friday, towards a more circular and responsible approach to fashion consumption.

In addition to the ban on fast fashion brands, concerns around fashion returns are also shedding light on the environmental impact of the industry, especially during Black Friday.

A report from AI platform True Fit highlighted the impact of fashion returns and the hidden costs of the excessive buying and returning that often accompanies Black Friday sales.

True Fit suggests the average shopper will return 15% of the fashion items they purchase during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Plus, it says one in five millennials would be likely to return fashion items bought during these events.

Returns not only contribute to financial losses for retailers but also take a significant toll on the environment.

The impact ranges from increased carbon emissions due to transportation to the massive waste generated from unsold and returned items and directly contradicts the principles of sustainability the fashion industry is increasingly advocating for.

Black Friday’s endorsement of impulsive buying and the subsequent surge in returns only exacerbates these problems, further highlighting the contradiction between the industry’s sustainability goals and the consumerist throwaway culture it promotes during this annual shopping event.

It won’t be long before consumers question the difference between the new sustainable values championed by the fashion industry and the behaviours it encourages during Black Friday.

Ultimately, the hypocrisy of Black Friday in the context of the fashion sector’s push for sustainability is clear for all to see.

Perhaps it’s time for the fashion industry to reconsider its participation in Black Friday and instead support initiatives that promote responsible and mindful consumption.

After all, true change starts with the choices both individuals and bigger organisations make and next year’s Black Friday could present an opportunity to for the sector to show the planet and consumers that it’s ready to go beyond words and make a real change.

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