Above the Fold

A digital 'zine by Original Fuzz about creativity and making stuff.

★  Jul 21, 2024  ★

Black Friday Is Not a Woke-ness Contest

Patagonia started a Black Friday tradition that has morphed into a cynical marketing tactic by many upstart brands. We don't buy it.

Featured photo for Black Friday Is Not a Woke-ness Contest

It all started with Patagonia's now-famous full-page ad in the NY Times on Black Friday, 2011. It quickly spread to other brands like REI giving their employees the day off—which is great—but has now metastasized into a cynical marketing ploy for many upstart brands. These days everyone is trying to "out-woke" the competition. We're calling bullshit.

Let me be clear, Patagonia is a North Star for our company. Doing what they've done, in the way they've done it, would surpass our wildest dreams for Original Fuzz. We know that many, like us, seek to follow their path—but many of those brands misinterpreted the message of Patagonia's Black Friday ad. We don't take their example to mean that we shouldn't run a sale, or that we should come up with our own twist on their idea, or that we should start donating one guitar strap to a child in need for every one sold.

Instead, we see it as a challenge to be serious about our environmental impact—a process of continuous improvement. We believe in running a sustainable business that provides something of real value to our customers. One that supports and encourages our employees to grow and do their best work with us.

We roll our eyes at brands that attempt to be righteous on Black Friday so they can sell more shit the other 364 days of the year. We also don't believe in the mindless consumer excess epitomized by Black Friday. We are just as grossed out as anyone by the consequences of rampant consumerism, but we don't believe that you should cancel your holiday tradition of giving gifts to the people you care about.

We do believe that running a brief sale this time of year is a good way to show appreciation for our customers. It's a time of year when everyone's budget gets stretched. 

Buying consumer products doesn't have to be viewed as a negative act. We need material things to live our lives. But if you care about sustainability, it's important to be intentional about your purchases. That's why we do our best to make great products and limit their environmental impact as much as we can. Step one is to do our damndest to make a product that is so good you'll want to pass it on to the next generation—use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. 

Step two is to try and make all of our products, our supply chain, and operations environmentally sound. We've started along this path by doing things like importing our Peruvian fabric Fair Trade, using 100% recyclable and recycled packaging, and donating 1% of our sales to fight climate change. Still, there's always more to do, and the environmental crisis is urgent.

Please let us know your how you think we could improve. We genuinely want to know what you think.