And just like that, it was November. Where has this year disappeared to? I woke up this morning to see the start of the online ‘Black Friday’ whisperings. Hang on a minute, we haven’t even had Remembrance Day yet but somehow I’m already spying those Black Friday & Christmas campaigns with adverts on social media.
Now, the cynical side of me will put down my ‘broad minded’ filter and pick up my wine glass, as I roll my eyes at another opportunity for western world consumerism to grasp us by the purse and take us for a ride. However, I’m not writing this with a glistening halo above my head. I openly admit to loving a spot of shopping and believe if shopping was a sport then I could probably compete for a bloody Olympic medal! However, I fear there is something wrong in our world when my boys, like many other Kiddlywinks, are already enticed by ads and encouraged to think about their Crimbo wish list items, before learning about the fundamental history behind Remembrance Day. We really don’t know how lucky we are to live in a world that is not globally at war. This current gratitude is something our kids should be aware of. So the wafts of Black Friday shopping deal ads on my iPhone, just seem so wrong!
I love a bit of history so I did some research to find out more about one of the biggest bargain bonanza days in the retail calendar. I was curious to know more about a growing global consumer event that I have always associated with Americans and their U.S Thanksgiving holiday.
*above image source: Pinterest
The History Of Black Friday
The story of how ‘Black Friday’ came about, dates back to the 1950’s when the police of Philadelphia used it as a term to describe the chaos ensued on a particular Friday during the Thanksgiving holiday. Apparently, one year, hoards of shoppers and tourists flooded into the city of Philadelphia in advance of the big annual Army Vs Navy football game held on the Thanksgiving Saturday. Cue a bit of hot and bothered street tension! In the 1980’s the ‘Black Friday’ term was adopted by retailers who wanted to transform and market it into something that reflected greater positive associations. The result was the ‘red and black’ concept. Suggesting the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when American stores finally turned over a profit going from ‘red to black’ in the account books!
Since then the one day shopping event has turned into a 4 day hardcore consumer shopping spree, with the introduction of Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. “According to the pre-holiday survey this year by the national retail federation an estimated 135.8 million American (58.7%) definitely plan to shop over the thanksgiving weekend. Though even more, 183.8 million (79.6%) said they would take advantage of the online deals offered on Cyber Monday”. Sarah Pruitt, Nov 22,2015 – What’s the real History of Black History – www.history.com
*above image source: Pinterest
My Black Friday Shopping History
Once again, I never want anyone to read this post, or any of my posts for that matter, and believe I’m writing from a judgmental or hypocritical angle. After all, retail therapy has whispered my name, many a time in the past!
Previous Black Fridays have seen me dropping my husband off at a Target store on my early morning drive to work. All in the mission of buying the Christmas ‘family gift’ iPad from my parents with a brilliant Black Friday price tag! There is also that time I bought one of my beloved Bella Freud jumpers (see post: I’m not rich enough to buy cheap) online, at bloody 2am!! Consequently, the ‘sensible shopping fairies’ had the last laugh as a week later I started sweating at the sight of two texts on my phone. One text from DHL with news of my exciting impending Bella delivery and the other text from my hubby, to say he was staying home that day as he was sick!! What the actual f*&^! He’s never bloody sick! Cue a guilt ridden post shopping face!
As always, I say ‘you do you and I’ll do me’. But if your bank balance is telling you to behave and you can memorise your credit card number above your beloved’s phone number then don’t accept that Black Friday pressure to buy anything you don’t need- just because it’s a bargain. Now, it’s a completely different matter if you are in dire need of a new coat as your current one is worn/damaged and this is your opportunity to buy one half price before the real winter cold weather sets in – that just seems smart! But do you really need another coat when you have 20 coats hanging in the hallway closet? And yes, I’m purely writing this to myself here!
My New Black Friday Tradition
Ok, so this is a new little tradition for me. It all started last year when I put up a post on my instagram feed @loveagoodstripe on Black Friday’16 . You see, last year I was Skinty McSkint. I had indulged in buying some beloved pieces from that epic Alexa Chung design collaboration with Marks and Spencer (see blog post here) and therefore all my shopping funds were completely depleted. I was watching those countless instagram and blog posts pop up regarding the best Black Friday shopping deals on both sides of the pond with all of their recommendations for the mighty things to snap up and buy! I enjoy watching people’s wardrobes unfold on those magical little squares, but it can be too easy to spend money you don’t have when you shout out “me too” while ordering that latest lust-worthy dress. Last year I decided that instead of buying on Black Friday, I would instead donate a black bin bag of clothing.
Gather Up A Black Bag
Last year I gathered up some pieces I was no longer in love with and dropped them off at a donation point for a local women’s shelter. There’s no doubt about it, it simply feels good to do good! There are so many incredible well known national charities to choose from, but if you have some time to prepare, then you may want to take some time to research some of the lesser known local charities in your area. Do some detective work on who’s helping other women in your area. I discovered two local women’s shelters helping women that not only seek immediate safe refuge, but also want to build up their lives safely away from domestic abuse and harm. There are groups helping homeless women, by gathering vital items and clothing. Look for the groups supporting underprivileged women by providing them with suitable business attire in their efforts to get jobs and gain economic independence. I adore the work of the groups looking for party wear and evening dresses to provide under privileged young girls with prom dresses so they can attend their school prom. What I love about these local charities is that you get to help someone who may just unknowingly cross your path in the street and who will undoubtedly treasure and appreciate that beautiful coat you no longer wear. This is a win-win in my book.
Why buy something you don’t really need, just because it’s Black Friday? Use it as a day of wardrobe reflection and offer up a piece that has outlived its life with you and is ready to move on and make another woman smile! There’s something so powerful about supporting the sisterhood, regardless of what walk of life they come from.
I can’t help but think we need to slow everything down. We have been warned and now I see that we are fast becoming a world of “more is more” consumerism. If there are any others out there who love a good bloody shop and feel the magnetism of the insta squares, fashion blogs & shopping email lists offering up those ‘must have’ of best buys on Black friday. Then join me in my ‘Black Friday Black Bag’ day. I’d absolutely love to spread the word of this mission. Again, I’m not coming from an evangelical place but more from a Rosie The Riveter bicep curl angle. An empowered approach against buying things we don’t need on a day when discounts are wafted under our nose. There’s no denying it, it’s tricky.
I’d love you to share this post and my hashtag #BlackFridayBlackBag. I’d bloody love it even more if you can use the hashtag and tag me in some of your photos on social media with your own black bags instead of shopping bags full of things you may regret buying later on. Nothing would thrill me more than to see others proudly parading their black donation bag as opposed to feeling sick from overbuying those Black Friday tantalizing discounts. Who fancies joining me?
If this little Black Friday mission of mine has wet your whistle to find out more, instead of scrolling through that email from your fave store on this weeks latest arrivals! again – been there and done that! Then check out the amazing work from some of my fave groups & sites that are amazing sources of information and inspiration on how and why we should slow our fashion and shopping habits down.
Fashion Revolution: is the worlds largest fashion activism movement, who knocked my socks off with their recent epic podcast series and have really opened my eyes up to the realities and the voices behind the fast fashion industry issues. They have an amazing resource website and publish a Zine for learning about fast fashion and how to make an impact. I particularly love their online brand letter form. If you want to make a difference then you can start by just completing the Fashion Revolution form with brand details of who you want to contact and your details. Their website link will then do the rest! Super bloody easy. Check out instagram @fash_rev
Love Your Clothes UK : A brilliant charity offering up epic advice on slowing fashion down, supporting preloved fashion and saving clothing from landfill. I wrote an article for them here and just adore their social media and website tips. Check out Instagram @loveyourclothes_uk
Buy Nothing Day UK: I recently learnt about this group from a lovely staff member at Love Your Clothes UK. This group is spreading the news on shopping less and living more and are advocating that on Black Friday we simply buy nothing! Check them out on their website here and track down their work with the social media hashtags #buynothingday #shoplesslivemore.
Knickers Models Own: I have to mention the bloody fabulous, Caroline Jones of Knickers Models Own. My friend, Karen, whom I used to work with many moons ago, alerted me to the Facebook page of KMO. If you need style inspiration and a carrot to tempt you into buying from the charity shop then check out Caroline’s work here. I followed Caroline on social media through her 2015 campaign to buy and wear only preloved pieces from the Cancer research charity shops to raise awareness and money in memory of her late Mum. Not only did Caroline make an epic fundraising achievement and monetary amount, but she was absolutely mind-blowing on the preloved style front. Her book on her style year is absolutely incredible and she continues to inspire me and many others on the joys of preloved and styling up those charity shop finds. Check out instagram @knickers_models_own
Vivienne Westwood: Dame Vivienne Westwood said it best with her infamous words of “Buy less, Choose well, Make it last”. Check out her wisdom and passion for this subject on her website Climate Revolution. Check out Instagram @viviennewestwood
Who Influences you? Livia Firth and EcoAge continue to do their mighty work with the industry. There have also been some fabulous books written by @safia_minney, Lucy Siegel @theseagull, The Minimalists @theminimalists and Elizabeth L.Cline @elizabethlcline.
If there are any other groups or people out there inspiring you to buy less, then please share their names in the comments section below so we can all track down their work and continue to inspire each other in simply slowing the shopping down. I feel another blog post brewing on these mighty influencers.
The Last Word
So, said in my best Yoda voice, “May the force be with you”. Whether you are shopping on Black Friday for a much-needed item of clothing to replace one that is damaged/worn or if you are trying to resist the countless emails that are waving bonkers discounts at you, luring you to buy stuff you don’t need! Stay strong and I suppose it all boils down to being ‘Mindful’ when you shop. I know it’s the word of the ‘moment’ and risks making a few of you cringe but it’s also a word that sums up what we need to do when we shop, particularly on the bonanza day of Black Friday
Be strong, buy less and join in with me for #BlackFridayBlackBag on Friday 24th November 2017
As always, thank you for reading.