The Sour Taste Behind PLT’s Black Friday Sales

Image credit: The Guardian

Each year fashion brands attempt to shock and entice customers to create huge pre-Christmas sales on the infamous Black Friday, notably the biggest shopping day of the year. Pretty Little Thing is no stranger to huge, dramatic marketing sales strategies and this year was no exception.
Their Black Friday sales made headlines as they offered tops for as low as 8p and heels for as little as 25p within an ‘Up to 99% off’ sale, including over 3000 items. For some these sales were an exciting chance to splurge out on new outfits for the festive season whereas others were left
wondering whether this sale had finally gone too far and who was ultimately paying the price for these items.

PLT is owned by Boohoo plc, a global fashion corporation owning numerous fashion brands including Nasty Gal and Karen Millen. The corporation also made headlines this year for the wrong reasons, accusations of modern slave labour within its Leicester factory, with reports claiming these employees being paid a shocking £3.50 an hour whilst working in unsafe and unsanitary conditions during the pandemic. This leaves these sales with an underlining sour taste… what is the hidden cost for these dramatically low prices?

With Pretty Little Thing’s CEO, Umar Kamani possessing a net worth of £1 billion, it is evident that the cost for these cheap clothes is not
lowering shareholder profits but unethically low paying labour with the average annual salary of a Leicester ‘dark factory’ garment worker being £8,155.50. Alongside unethical labour the sales certainly encourage ‘throwaway culture’, suggesting consumers may buy these items for the sake of it, rather than cherishing and looking after the item, it is likely to end up in a landfill within months of purchase. This fast-paced unethical consumption is particularly damaging to the environment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year and used an estimated 1.5tn litres of water annually, this gives the industry a larger environmental cost than aviation and shipping industries combined. If this isn’t terrifying enough, Greenpeace estimates that enough textiles to fill a rubbish truck are sent to landfills or burned every second.

In light of the industry’s dangerous environmental cost should brands be actively encouraging this kind of consumption? Ultimately whilst some may argue factory owners and retailers are completely to blame for this environmental and ethical failure, the factories claim retail’s relentless push for lower and lower prices makes it impossible to improve. Therefore although it is essential to hold these corporations like Pretty Little Thing to account there also needs to be a shift in mentality and a consumer awareness towards how and where we shop.