Pretty Little Thing sold clothes for 4p on Black Friday – but how much does it pay garment workers?

Pretty Little Thing offered 99% off in November 2020, leading to questions about how its workers are treated.
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Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. High street fashion brands, including Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo, Topshop and ASOS offer huge discounts across their stores, luring in Christmas shoppers looking to get a bargain.

You’d be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed at the thought of it, as the sheer volume of stores participating has grown vastly in the UK in recent years – not to mention the question of ethics thrown up by the discount day.

READ MORE: How ethical and sustainable is Pretty Little Thing?

Most stores slash their prices up to 70%, but one brand took it a step further for 2020’s discount day. Fast fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing, who operate exclusively online, offered a gobsmacking 99% off this Black Friday, much to the shock of their fans. Shoppers took to social media to express their disbelief at the cheap prices, with some buying items for as little as 4p.

‘How have i just bought 22 actual PLT dresses for £3,’ one Twitter user wrote, while another added, ‘I just bought a coat for 55p I can’t deal.’

Pretty Little Thing is owned by Boohoo PLC, the company this year accused of modern slavery when it was revealed it was underpaying garment workers in factories in Leicester.

READ MORE: 6 books about fast fashion everyone should read

Prettylittlething are selling clothes for 4p in their Black Friday sale - but how much do they pay their workers?

While the minimum wage in the UK sits at £8.72, an investigation carried out by The Sunday Times found that Boohoo were paying its workers just £3.50 per hour while they worked in unsafe conditions. This equates to £8k per annum.

Workers’ rights group Labour Behind the Label found that staff at the Leicester factories were being ‘forced to come into work while sick with Covid-19’. This has been linked to a rise in Coronavirus cases in the city, which was the first in the UK to be put under local lockdown.

Regardless of the company seemingly being unable to pay its garment workers properly, it seems it could afford to give away £1,000 to 10 lucky winners on Twitter on Black Friday 2020. That’s almost £2,000 more than a garment worker employed by the company earns in an entire year.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that both PLT’s CEO Umar Kamani and Boohoo’s CEO Mahmus Kamani both have a net worth of £750 million.

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As well as Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo PLC own brands Boohoo, Boohoo Man, Nasty Gal, Miss Pap, Karen Millen, Coast, Oasis and Warehouse. They recently took over Debenhams too, meaning all the department stores in the UK closed as it prepares to move everything online.

We haven’t yet mentioned the devastating damage fast fashion has on the environment, but there’s no hiding from it.

A quick Google search will tell you of the catastrophic impact that the fashion industry is having on our planet. It produces 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, pollutes the oceans with microplastics and is now the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.

By offering 99% off, what kind of message are PLT sending out to consumers?

Business Insider reports that people bought on average 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000 and fast fashion isn’t going to slow us down. Selling garments for 4p encourages shoppers to buy more and more, and people are suffering as a result.

READ MORE: Which brands are fast fashion?

Fortunately it’s not just fast-fashion brands that are growing. Global fashion search platform Lyst reported a 75% increase in searches for sustainability and keywords related to sustainability in fashion between 2018 and 2019, and ThredUp’s 2019 Fashion Resale Market Report predicted that second-hand fashion will grow to nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion by 2028.

Brands like Pretty Little Thing must be held accountable for its actions, so we encourage individuals to demand change by writing directly to the brands via social media and email.

As discounts continue all-year-round, we also encourage you to be mindful about what you buy. Do you really need it? Will you hold onto it for years? Here’s a list of anti-fast fashion brands for you to browse.

The way we consume fashion needs to change and changing how you think is a great place to start.

READ MORE: Is ASOS fast fashion?

READ MORE: Can H&M’s Conscious collection ever really be sustainable?