In 2011, the outdoor clothing company Patagonia did something brilliant. In a unique ad campaign designed to flatter consumers into thinking they don’t care about material goods, it ran page ads featuring one of the company’s beautiful winter fleece jackets with the slogan 'DON’T BUY THIS JACKET'.
It did something that few ad campaigns had done before: it asked – or rather instructed – consumers to restrain themselves. It presented a photo of one of its fantastic products and then told you to refrain from buying it impulsively, or lustfully, or to otherwise buy something you just don’t need.
Of course, it was hugely clever. The campaign did its utmost to explain that shopping is bad because the garment industry is wasteful. But if you HAVE to buy something, you’re probably best off buying the least-sinful option: a beautiful Patagonia fleece.
The anti-shopping movement has grown exponentially in recent years – largely in a backlash to the annual retail events like Black Friday, which encourages consumers to buy as much as they can at reduced rates.
The upscale-fleece-company REI decided to close its doors on Black Friday. Instead, it runs a social media campaign #OptOutside, to promote the fact, inviting its band of loyal customers to share the fact that rather than going shopping on a day when stuff’s on sale, you’re going to be scaling a mountain, or paddling down a creek.
Of course, Black Friday events have surfaced on this side of the Atlantic too here int he UK.
But even Asda - part of the Walmart Group – took a stand last year to not partake in flash sales which have in the past led to full scale riots in stores as people try to get their hands on cut price flat screen TVs.
Patagonia’s ad campaign was less about anti-shopping though, and more about encouraging people to think before they buy. And if they are going to be, to choose something that lasts.
Fashion and apparel has a big problem - particularly fast-fashion. the sort of stuff sold by the high street chains, like Primark, Topshop and H&M. According to Wrap, around £140m (350,000 tonnes) worth of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year – that’s around 30% of our unwanted clothing.
People like to stay on top of the latest fashion trends, but clearly it comes at a price.
But there are a growing band of businesses that promote a ‘built to last’ mentality, encouraging people to only buy something that they will use again and again – that has legs, that is sustainable.
Our guest this week has built his business on this very concept. Tom Cridland is a luxury fashion designer with a range of clothing for which he offers a 30-year guarantee.
I hope you enjoy our chat this week.
During my chat with Vikki Knowles this week, we mentioned the Budget (a good round up of which can be found here); the B Corps uniting to bring rooftop solar to the masses; the Wings on Waste plastic trash-powered plane journey championed by Sir David Attenborough; and Unilever's Indiegogo innovation campaign.