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Brief Published: 14 Nov 2019

Black Friday Brand Backlash Begins

Christopher Raeburn

Black Friday (November 29) – the annual frenzy of pre-Holiday purchasing – is already looming large. While the deep discounting and in-store scrums will remain, a growing number of brands are attuning to burgeoning dissatisfaction with rampant consumerism, creating sustainability-emphasising alternatives.

While Black Friday is still going strong – in 2018, the American National Retail Federation stated online sales were up 28% from 2017, a rise of nearly 70% more than experts had predicted (Forbes, 2018) – some brands are subverting the event to spotlight more considered, respectful modes of consumption. 


Canadian beauty brand Deciem will close its stores and website, posting on its Instagram page: “Hyper-consumerism poses one of the biggest threats to the planet, and flash sales can often lead to rushed purchasing decisions […] We no longer feel that Black Friday is an earth- or consumer-friendly event, and have therefore decided to close our website and stores for a moment of nothingness on the 29th November.”

To emphasise its point regarding more considered consumption, it’s offering a month-long deal instead: 23% off all products for the whole of November.


UK fashion brand Christopher Raeburn is shutting its stores and instigating a free repairs event under the slogan: “Buy Nothing, Raepair Something”. It encompasses on-the-spot garment alterations (via assisted DIY or talented seamstresses), and will be held at its East London Lab space. Notably, they will accept items from any brand. The free, yet ticketed event is already fully booked.

US footwear brand Allbirds is clearing stock from its London store for Black Friday, turning it into event spaces in a bid to prompt consumers to re-evaluate consumption. Allbirds, which makes its products from sustainable natural materials has created workshops which focus on each material, including a eucalyptus wreath making workshops with East London florists Grace & Thorn.

US fashion brand Everlane is putting some of the proceeds from Black Friday sales into a fund to support the Surfrider Foundation, which organises ocean clean-ups.


American outdoor apparel brand REI’s #OptOutside campaign (now in its fifth year) is evolving. It will not only close stores, decline e-sales and pay employees to spend a day outdoors, but has also launched Opt to Act – urging fans to join its nationwide clean-ups, including partnering with frenemy US outdoor retailer United by Blue.