Fake bargains: The real reasons why fashion brands are always on sale.

SANVT Journal

Have you noticed yet? When strolling along shopping streets or shopping malls, there is hardly ever a time when the “discreet” SALE signs aren’t in shop windows and on posters. The latest shirts, the best shoes or even the “New Collection” is already on sale and signposted with discounts of 20%, 30%, 50%, sometimes more. A deceptive bargain for bargain hunters, often a great nuisance for those who have just paid the full price!

But why is that? Why is the sale no longer limited to traditional summer or winter sales. Why can we basically discover articles from freshly released collections at discount prices, at any time and increasingly often? Where does this proliferation of discount campaigns come from?

A change of legislation 

If you look more closely at production and marketing, it becomes clear that the fashion industry does not use sales as real sales but more as a marketing technique to be applied on and off whenever it suits. Developments in recent years clearly show that the fashion industry relies on mass production and economies of scale. In order to sell the largest possible quantities, a rather basic strategy is being used: more for less. Clothing is produced cheaply and quickly and it needs to be put on the market and sold to customers just as quickly. The huge range on offer is intended to stimulate ‘consumers’ to re-fill their wardrobes, buy more, and follow new trends.

Crucially, since the amendment of the law on discounts in 2001, retailers are allowed to offer discounts at any time of the year. This development has now demonstrably led to a situation in which sale seasons start before the actual climate or season is even ready. Paradoxically, tops and shirts, skirts and sandals will already be on sale before summer has really begun.

Reward behaviours and psychology

The feeling that reduced-priced articles are a significant saving to individuals is rather deceptive: Fashion brands calculate their product prices before the supposed sale price, so that goods still have enough margin at the original price to make a profit even at discounted prices. Reducing a garment’s price during sales, creates a sense of achievement for the customer and the impression of a real bargain. This “healthy price” sensation completely suppresses sensible considerations such as the question: “Do I need this at all?

Experts explain the psychological factor behind this with the fact that, similar to a drug, the perceived bargain activates the reward system of the brain and thus stimulates nerve cells, which make it almost impossible for most people to resist the “unique” offer.

For the customer, however, this concept often means one thing: poor quality paired with an ever-increasing psychological drive to buy more. Once worn, the threads pull apart, the fabric shows clear signs of wear, but consumers are trained to pay less attention to quality as the garment was cheap so it doesn’t matter and a new bargain can be purchased immediately.

Ever-changing trends spark over-consumption

Another major factor for sales and discounts is the constantly changing and consumption-oriented trends. The frequent change of what is “in” or “out” and the buyer’s propensity to follow the latest trends, leads to the constant urge for further purchases and thus the temptation to browse for bargain prices. Scientists also call this type of buying behaviour “novelty seeking”. At the same time, constantly shifting fashion trends mean that brands must dismiss the “old” collection as quickly as possible. In order to sell in profitably, prices are lowered early during the season as well as the bigger markdowns during the so-called sales later on.

Due to the influences described above, consumers want more and more new clothes and faster and faster. But they have become accustomed to the sale. The buyer is slowly beginning to rethink. There is always a sale somewhere and you can still take advantage cleverly, so why then buy at full price? The purchase when bringing out the new collection is hardly worthwhile, one does not have to wait long for a discount, so it’s best to wait for the sale a little down the line, in order to buy the desired article.

So, when fashion brands need to sell as quickly as possible before the next trend rushes in, and people anticipate the imminent discounts before buying, it turns into a vicious cycle of sale after sale after sale.

Busy streets: A common phenomenon during sales season.

SANVT is different

Smart Chino (290 GSM) in Beige from the SANVT collection. 

Founded 2018 in Munich, Germany and since then it is on the mission, to change the fashion industry with a more sustainable approach. At SANVT, we do things differently. We aim to reverse the trend and slow down the fashion industry’s ravenous appetite for sales. We focus on quality instead of quantity and offer sustainably and fair produced clothing for individualists. Instead of short-lived trends, we offer a permanent year-round collection of timeless clothing that lasts longer and is sustainably made. From the beginning of the season throughout the full year, we do not overcharge and offer the best quality garments at the best possible price.

We don’t add extra margins for expensive retail location or for wholesales partners because our business model allows us to work differently. This way, we avoid the need to compromise in regards to quality as we are not in the business of cutting corners when it comes to materials or production. Thanks to lean internal processes, we can offer true luxury products far below market prices. SANVT stands for high quality at fair prices – at all times. Less is more. We believe slowing down the way the industry works (and discounts) is the only way towards a more sustainable approach with fashion.

Learn more about our philosophy here.

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