Can Sales Be Sustainable?

If you’re a TWOTHIRDS customer, you may have already benefitted from our seasonal sales. We admit, they’re an excellent opportunity to get quality products at reduced prices. At the same time, you may have some doubts about the ethics of sales and whether it makes sense for a sustainable brand to offer discounts in the first place. After all, aren’t sales a fast fashion tactic to get you to buy more stuff that you don’t need? This is a great question and one that we’re going to unpack as transparently as possible in this post! 

The bottom line: sales can be sustainable when part of a more resilient, ethical, and sustainable production system. 

Because…

The Key Issue With Fashion Sales Is Overproduction

From the outside, the fashion industry seems like an efficient, smoothly running, trillion-dollar machine. But look closely and you’ll see that it’s riddled with problems, one of the foremost being overproduction. 

What is overproduction?

Overproduction is the creation of goods that a company or industry fails to sell. It is the leftovers, the waste, the collateral damage from a system that prioritises speed, profit and consumption over efficiency. Most overproduced garments end up in landfill. 

Why does it happen? In short: because fashion works back to front. Instead of figuring out whether a style will actually be worn and by whom, big fashion brands produce their stock in advance and hope that it will sell. When it doesn’t, they fall back on Sales. T-shirts for 7 dollars. Jeans for 17. Big markdowns that have bigger environmental costs. Not only are Sales used to excuse overproduction, but they can even become the core philosophy of a company - driving them to make clothing at cut prices. As observed by Harvard Business Review, such companies turn to fossil-fuel based fibres like polyester, which are low cost but environmentally damaging, and cheap, unregulated labour. It’s this kind of behaviour that gives Sales - and fashion - a bad name! 

Critics of big sales events often say that the phenomenon encourages overconsumption as well as overproduction. But they also admit that sales offer the possibility for customers to save money (important now more than ever). This would suggest that Sales need to be handled in a more sustainable way, and that fashion in general could benefit from a rethink. 

All this is why we pioneered the pre-order system. Instead of making clothing as fast as possible and trying to sell it even faster, we take the time to understand who is ordering each style and how much fabric we actually need. This makes us savvier with resources, and more efficient with waste. In fact, it’s in large part because of our pre-order system that we’re able to sell between 97-99% of all the clothing we make. To compare, 30% of the world’s apparel is expected to remain unsold - an implausible waste. 

However, that doesn’t mean we avoid discounts altogether. Sales also play an important role in our ‘no overproduction’ policy.

Why does TWOTHIRDS offer sales? 

Pre-order helps us to reduce the waste we create. Sales help us to eliminate it. 

No system is 100% perfect, and some of our styles do get left behind due to cancellation or miscalculation. When we put them on Sale, it’s our hope that they will find a home with somebody that really wants them but may have missed out the first time.

At a glance, this is what makes our sales special:

  • No loss of quality. Every collection goes on pre-order first before the items are put on sale. Which means that the garments have been crafted with precision in Northern Portugal over a series of weeks. This contrasts to garments that are made extremely fast to be sold at cut prices.   
  • A sustainable alternative to flash sales. Our seasonal sales run for weeks not days, giving you time to think about your choices. 
  • Fair prices, not fake prices. It’s often said that when garments are very cheap, somebody else (the worker) is paying the price. With us, you know you’re getting ethical and sustainable clothing even when the discount is applied. 

And that’s also key: all of our clothing is made from sustainable materials that have a gentler impact on the earth. Our philosophy is to make clothing that lasts for people that care about protecting the ocean.

When shopping sales, we recommend...

  • Buying less! And choosing better. Take your time to shop consciously.
  • Reading up on the brand first. You can check our Eco Page here. 
  • Checking the fabric. If it isn’t organic, recycled, or naturally sourced, you’d be wise to reconsider. 
  • Opting timeless over temporary. Will you wear it for more than one season? 
  • Choosing to pre-order instead! Our pre-ordered garments already come with a 20% saving to say thanks for stopping waste.