The Concept of the SALE.


So on the train home from work one day, I was considering, how the SALE signs seem to be everywhere.


What do they really stand for and how to we react to the idea of getting a good deal – does the SALE raise our consumption? I guess if we paid more for clothing we’d buy less and probably take better care of those fewer items. But can the industry survive without this way of getting rid of waste/unwanted product?

Now I don’t have huge pots of gold, so I do tend to wait for the SALES before I purchase, this I would imagine is the case with a lot of people.

But recently I have been troubled by a couple of things:

  1. On a very basic level, there seems to be more SALE time nowadays, than time when items are full price – for me this offers the question of what is a SALE offering?

I’m sure many people have considered this, but the idea that SALE items are discounted is a hard one to understand, when these companies essentially need to be money making. So what about the idea that SALE items provide a full profit margin, and ‘full price’ garments have a premium added to create the illusion of generous discount when theSALEs come.

I’m sure this is not the case for every company, but if it wasn’t the case, some companies would be working at a constant loss!


  1. After watching the documentary on the collapse of Rana Plaza (a garment factory in Bangladesh) ‘Clothes to Die For’. Among the many issues this programme discussed a certain comment stuck in my mind. One of the young ladies, who survived, commented on how she thought of the women who would be wearing the clothes she made, and that she hoped that they appreciated her skills.

Do we consider who makes our clothes? I am a person who creates clothing, I understand much of the process in producing clothing, and even though I look for the fair trade labels and the country of manufacture, I still struggle to consider the faces of individuals who have created the garments I buy. Who makes out clothes is not the first thing that comes to mind when buying clothes, the first thing is do I like the colour/pattern/shape/texture?  Some people may want to look inside and see the quality of how the garment is put together – but I would imagine the number is low.

Some people may consider the industry behind a garment and want to buy ‘fair trade’ or ‘made in England/UK’, but the SALE is a part of virtually every company’s business model, it is inherent in selling all products.

The SALE comes hand in hand with fast fashion, if a clothing label needs to produce a range of clothing styles with a range of sizes it is impossible to predict what will be sold and what will not. The final incentive to buy these unwanted items is the reduction in cost, the idea that we are getting a good deal. The industry, as it is, cannot work without the SALE. The SALE allows more clothing to be produced and this provides more jobs, but it will also always be an advocate for devaluing the skills and materials that created a garment.


Essentially the SALE is inherent in the current industry; but when we buy that item (at a quarter of its originally price) treat it with the care and respect it deserves – because someone somewhere created it!

Whilst I can’t seem to find much information on this idea*, there is a lot out there on over-consumption.

(* A very good friend forwarded me this article, for Channel 4’s Dispatches, on the retailer TK Maxx: Secrets of the Discount Store.)

Below are a couple of short films on the subject:

Make Do and Mend Year. Jen Gale

Notions of Value. Alina Moat

If you are interested in the producers, the Fair Trade label People Tree have a fabulous page on their website providing information on all the producers they work with:

Click here:


More recently I have been introduced to the fantastic clothing brand Tonlé, they work with Zerowaste production and focus on the people creating the clothing. They have a fantastic page on their website that introduces you to the individual makers!

Meet Sreang, he is the Printing Team Leader:



1 comment so far

  1. Caroline

    Brilliant article Frankie .,I went shopping on Sunday and found it really hard to buy anything ,in the past I have bought from primark but my heart wouldn’t allow it .
    I think I’m destined to buy knickers , bras and shoes the rest I can make .
    I had picked up a jumper and I lived it it was a mint green – then that film re run in my head – I said goodbye to the jumper and put it back


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