The History of Black Friday

The History of Black Friday


Senior year of high school, my then-boyfriend and I embarked on a trip to Target during the wee hours of Black Friday morning. We experienced the full cycle of what post-Thanksgiving binge shopping used to be: going in person to a big box retailer, waiting in a line crammed with hordes of people, and frantically running around the store in pure chaos. He got a violent video game, while I bought a DVD—at cost of going to bed at 6am.

Black Friday nowadays looks different in a lot of ways: shopping can be done online (thankfully) and sales start much earlier. But in reflecting on this teenage experience and our own sale this year, I realized my limited knowledge of the initial intention behind the tradition.

What are Black Friday’s origins?

As the last major holiday break before Christmas, the day after Thanksgiving seems to have consistently marked the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. But the “Black Friday” term itself used to have a negative connotation. It first was used to describe the crash of the gold market in 1869.

The 1960s was when Black Friday began to be associated with shopping. The Philadelphia police used the term to describe their misery in dealing with throngs of shoppers headed into the city during the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Yikes!

Retailers apparently tried to pick a name with a more positive spin, Big Friday, but it never caught on. Over time, the "black" bit of the term evolved to mean how retailers went from unprofitable (red) to profitable (black) at the start of the season.

Over the past six decades, Black Friday has morphed into something much bigger than a single day of shopping. It is an enormously important time of year for the retail industry; nearly 155 million Americans shopped on Black Friday in 2021!

What does Black Friday mean for us?

On the surface, our year-end sale has a similar goal to those of our predecessors and peers: driving sales through special offers.

But there’s a lot more to it as well. We hope our Black Friday sale—one of two promotions in 2022—is an opportunity for our community to update their top drawer with bodywear they can wear all year round for less. It's our way of saying thank you!

Our goal also is to encourage mindfulness amongst the madness. We announced this sale in May and extended it over 10 days to give you ample time to plan your purchases.

Finally, we self-fund our inventory purchases, so the extra cash from this high-growth period will go towards expanding the collection. So much newness is in the works for next year: high waisted underwear, a recycling program, a second bra, and more bodysuit colors and silhouettes. A strong Black Friday turnout means we can deliver products you've requested even quicker.

How to shop smart this holiday season

Don’t buy something solely because it’s on sale, but if you come across a discounted item you’ll use, go and get it! Even if you’re not a minimalist, this simple framework can be a guide to shop smartly, and more intentionally, now and always.


—Phoebe Kunitomi, founder and CEO of okko

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