Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Why Pretty Little Thing's Black Friday Sale Is Scary

Everyone loves a deal, hence why Black Friday is so popular to begin with. I myself picked up some Charlotte Tilbury bits because of their promotion this year. But at what point does a low price cross the line from a bargain to unethical?

This year Pretty Little Thing introduced a 99% off sale, yes, you read that correctly. There are two sides to this, those who are upset they missed out on it and those who are upset it happened in the first place. Clothing on the website started from 4p and you could easily pack a trolley full for under a couple of pounds. It’s a tricky topic in the fact that it can be hard to turn down something that costs so little, especially when you're a student or having a lower income. I think the topic of sustainability is so dodged by some because they believe that there are expectations attached. But this really isn't the case when every little bit of help matters. The idea of becoming fully sustainable in every aspect of your life by tomorrow morning is unrealistic, this is something that will take a long time and there will always be something more you can do and something new to learn. The truth is sixteen-year-old me would have had ten Pretty Little Thing parcels delivered on Saturday 28th too. It was my job at Lush alongside educating myself through stories and articles that opened my eyes to the reality of the situation we are in, especially from a climate crisis point of view. 

It may be the business student inside speaking, but for a company to still profit from clothes the price of a corner shop lolly, their products are clearly made very cheaply. This means that the people making those products are paid very close to nothing. The reality of how much people are being paid in sweatshops really shines through when you see a pair of new trainers selling for 30p. This is petrifying. I was taught about sweatshops in geography back in year eight or nine, but they always used to sound so far away and almost nothing to do with our world. How ironic is it that it is our world dictating them. As a society, we can share charitable posts on social media regularly, but that means nothing if our indoor behaviour doesn't change. How can we promote anti-slavery charities on our feeds but then support a child's labour for a dress in our wardrobe? 

The environmental factor of this is just as baffling. We all recognise the PLT packaging, pink unicorn wrapping and then plastic bags per item inside. I have seen plenty of posts online of people showing their deliveries, the amount of packaging is immense. That plastic won't go anywhere and is very unlikely to be reused so it will just litter our planet further. A way to combat this would be to take inspiration from Zara, sending their parcels out in cardboard boxes or envelopes with just one piece of tissue paper around the entire order, not individual plastic bags. A fairly easy change to make but would reduce the number of thousands of unicorn bags in our landfills. The fact that fast fashion clothing isn't usually the highest quality is no secret, with many of the items being made mostly out of polyester. I am sure that a fair amount of the orders will be kept and worn, but how many were bought purely because they cost so cheap and will end up in the bin? Will people really go through the whole return process just to wait for a handful of pennies? 

It's not just Pretty Little Thing, a vast number of retailers source their clothing in an unethical manner, but this one in particular really stands out currently. It’s tricky to understand how the brand’s CEO can give out £20,000 on Twitter in return for retweets to ‘make as many people happy’ but doesn’t care about the treatment of people being paid peanuts to manufacture the company's clothing. There really is a lot contributing to the popularity of fast fashion. These brands pay the current trending influencers and stars to advertise their clothes, of course their fans will follow. Especially when you’re at a younger age and cannot grasp the reality and extent of the situation, why wouldn’t you buy the same dress your favourite reality star is wearing and raving about when it costs so little?

Completely eliminating fast fashion from your life may seem daunting, but there are many steps you can take in this direction that aren't an aching leap. For instance, if there is a particular piece on Boohoo that you like, see if someone is selling it second hand. The top two most popular brands on Depop are Topshop and Pretty Little Thing, you're very likely to find what you want on there. This enables you to still buy what you wanted at a low price, but you're not directly buying from the retailer. Now imagine if next time you're placing an order for three things, you buy one of the three second hand. That's a third of your order. You are prolonging the life of that piece of clothing. If more people sourced a third of their fast fashion order through the preloved market, we would reduce the amount of new unethical clothes being made. According to the House of Common Environmental Audit Committee in 2019, the textile production industry contributed more to climate change than international shipping and aviation combined. The scale of this issue is astronomical. Another thing you could do is reuse the packaging you receive. Give it another purpose. Whether you cut your address out and reuse your Misguided packaging to send out your own Depop sale or you use it as a general bin bag, it’s better than just throwing it out straight away. Also, it’s worth checking out Vestiaire Collective if you’re after some new pieces. You will be surprised at the price point of some items.

We are not expected to distance ourselves entirely with the very, very long list of stores that contribute to these issues. We are not expected to change our lives to be as sustainable as possible regarding every single situation later on this afternoon. We all have different areas relating to this we are more interested in, whether it is fighting animal cruelty or only shopping second-hand. But by taking a few steps towards limiting our use of fast fashion that seem quite small, the impact we will have is big.

K x

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