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Tips and considerations to keep in mind when Black Friday shopping

A graphic showcasing a shopping cart and shopping bags to represent Black Friday shopping. The post-holiday event encourages early spending that can be hard to resist. ILLUSTRATED BY ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Black Friday has evolved from a post-holiday shopping event to week-long sales that encourage early spending. Many fast fashion brands offer significant Black Friday discounts that are hard to resist. 

Rather than adding to hyperconsumption and funding companies that feature the biggest “steals,” here are some tips to consider before deluging into excessive purchases — clothing in particular. Beyond Black Friday, these are also good considerations for more thoughtful spending, preventing overconsumption and buyer’s remorse. 

1. First, ask yourself: Which brands or companies are you shopping at? 

A large portion of modern fashion is considered fast fashion, which refers to the rapid production of cheap clothing that replicates the latest fashion trends but maintains poor environmental and ethical practices. Some examples of the larger fast fashion companies include retailers such as Shein and Zara.

It’s easy to understand those who shop at fast fashion retailers who can only afford to buy inexpensive and necessary garments. However, it’s also important to recognize that social media has fostered a dangerous overconsumption pattern due to the excessive spread of clothing-related content, such as trendy “Shein hauls” worth hundreds of dollars. 

Given the financial ability, try shopping at local thrift stores or slow fashion businesses that promote creating handmade goods and using eco-friendly materials instead of fast fashion retailers. Thrift stores often provide comparatively-low prices as fast fashion alternatives.

To evaluate brands and their commitments to sustainability, mobile app and website Good On You assesses a brand’s transparency on their labor conditions, animal welfare policies and environmental impacts. Although their rating system is flawed, as “it can only measure what it can see,” it provides customers with a convenient and general rating of a brand’s ethical production levels. 

2. Next, what is the quality of the clothing? 

High-quality clothing can be worth their expensive prices since they tend to have higher resilience to wear-and-tear. Fast fashion items are often produced with time-sensitive trends and lower-quality materials, making them less durable for long-term wearing. Some identifiers of a low-quality garment include zippers that do not work smoothly or stitches that are crooked or coming undone. 

Checking the clothing label is a good habit before buying since it informs you about the type of fabric content and quality. Products with a higher natural fiber content, including materials such as cotton, wool or linen, tend to indicate greater durability and longevity than products with a higher synthetic fiber content from materials such as polyester or nylon. Synthetic fibers are often blended with natural fibers to reduce production costs, which in turn lowers the quality level of the garment. 

3. Keeping quality in mind, will this be a short-lived item or will you wear it frequently? Is it a trend or is it a classic and timeless product? 

Microtrends refer to fashion fads that rapidly rise and fall out of style. Social media platforms promote these short-term trend cycles, and people often feel discouraged from wearing the garment once the trend fades, limiting its usage. 

Try buying items that will help to develop a capsule wardrobe, a curated collection of staple clothing items that complement each other and create a variety of outfit combinations. One of the best solutions for shopping sustainably is curating a capsule wardrobe that is timeless, high-quality and versatile. It encourages buying less and wearing clothes longer, reducing your carbon footprint.

4. Tying into the idea of a capsule wardrobe, does the product complement the clothes you already have? 

While you should feel free to discover new clothing styles, think about how you can style the garment with what you already own. Otherwise, you might rarely wear the item since it fails to match with your current wardrobe.

5. Picture where wearing this garment would be useful. In other words, where would you wear this article of clothing? 

You might find garments outside your typical, everyday fashion preferences such as party dresses or vintage pant suits. It can be tempting to buy it after loving how it fits you, but consider if you have a suitable place or event to wear it. While you can wear statement garments such as a chunky necklace or bright red pants any time, if wearing bold and eye-catching items on a daily basis is outside your comfort zone, you likely won’t wear it much, if at all. 

6. Lastly, do you have something similar?

If you already have a nearly-identical item in your wardrobe, it’s worth considering whether a similar purchase is necessary, as it may be redundant.

In addition to these considerations, you can try the following tips to better understand your wardrobe preferences:

  1. If you are unaware which style you fancy, creating mood or Pinterest boards can help develop your unique sense of style. Particularly, taking note of others with similar body types and the styles that flatter their figures can help boost your confidence and comfort in what you wear. When shopping, these tips can help narrow and refine your search, ultimately reducing your consumption while also creating a more enjoyable shopping experience. 
  2. Shop with purpose by focusing on sections that address your specific needs. Enter the retailer knowing what you do not need and what you can use more of in your wardrobe. For example, if you have plenty of jeans but not enough skirts, turn a blind eye to the jeans section and head to the skirts.

While Black Friday sales may entice you to spend freely with less guilt about prices, it will ultimately be more costly in the long run overconsuming on lower-quality clothing that will quickly go to waste. Wearing high-quality items longer is not only better for the environment by keeping existing items in use but it also saves money. Hopefully, even beyond Black Friday, these suggestions can guide you to be more environmentally conscious when shopping.

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