In a world full of luxury, we often fail to see the other side of it. For a long time now, luxury brands, are following their age-old tradition to destroy unsold products.
But the fact that – the fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters is why we need to talk about it.
Things You Didn’t Know About Luxury Brands.
Luxury products never go on sale, as they will dilute the heritage of luxury brands. In order to protect their brand identity, many choose to destroy the products.
Over the years, brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Nike, JCPenney, Michael Kors, Eddie Bauer, Louis Vuitton, & Victoria’s Secret have been accused of destroying their products.
As Victoria’s Secret is caught allegedly dumping “hundreds of bras” at closing stores, a look at fashion’s obsession with discarding or destroying unsold goods. https://t.co/Zy2USzGb8d pic.twitter.com/2h4Pq2DMeB— The Fashion Law (@TheFashionLaw) February 17, 2020
your favorite luxury brands burn clothes & other things instead of discounting items that haven’t sold because they feel it will devalue the brand. pic.twitter.com/q0u7y4rjqE— artistic guide (@iamshanbae) June 12, 2021
The justification brands give to destroy or burn their products is to maintain the scarcity of their goods and the exclusivity of their brands. They don’t want it to sell at a lower price as it may harm their brand image. It is also a major reason why they never go on sale.
According to a report in Business Insider, “the fashion industry makes up “10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes river streams.”
It is not only limited to clothing. Even Amazon was being called out in Germany for destroying tons of returned items, like mattresses, washing machines, dishwashers, and cellphones.
A lot of these luxury brands burn their shit anyways and still collect insurance from it.— Yaa Dela, MBA 🌈 (@jonelle_roxx) May 30, 2020
In 2018, Burberry came clean about burning clothes and said it “used specialist incinerators that harness energy from the process.” The destroyed goods totaled about $37 million, compared to Burberry’s revenue of $3.8 billion that year.
Here’s What Is Changing
This practice is highly criticized by many & it’s time brands take accountability for the waste they are creating.
France in an effort to mitigate this practice banned the burning of unsold luxury items. Burberry Group Plc said it would stop destroying products. Louis Vuitton and Dior announced a partnership with UNESCO on protecting key ecosystems for supporting the luxury industry.
France wants to stop fashion labels from destroying their unsold clothing, handbags and shoes.— Kim Bhasin (@KimBhasin) May 15, 2019
Luxury brands sometimes burn or bury their goods in order to stay out of the discount bin and protect their image. https://t.co/lr7gUVJIUJ pic.twitter.com/X9HndQiAjD
Though many brands are now adopting to recycle their products, the cost of recycling is hefty.
Timo Rissanenan, an associate dean at Parsons School of Design and a professor of fashion design and sustainability, talked about recycling the products & said.
“One way to recycle clothing is to shred it and to turn it into insulation, and there are fabrics that are quite good at being turning into the new fiber, spun into yarn, and then woven into clothes.”
Many luxury brands burn their surplus clothes instead of donating them to protect the brand and price, and to ensure that poor people don’t wear them. pic.twitter.com/VCYgkjviQt— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) July 22, 2018
But the minute you start mixing fibers, like polyester with cotton, the options for recycling become more limited. Then there are the obstacles of buttons and zippers. Before a garment can be put through a shredder, all the buttons and zippers must be removed, and that takes manual labor. With any kind of waste management like this, there’s a cost attached to it, and it’s often cheaper just to destroy it.
Furthermore, many brands are trying to adopt Modern luxury, which means to be socially & environmentally responsible.
Experts suggest this whole system change may take time but, we need to start calling out such brands.
A lot of this destruction happens in Panipat, in India that specializes in shredding. There is a short film made on how it’s done.
You can watch it here.
We must all limit ourselves from impulsive buying & try to buy secondhand stuff if possible.
It’s high time luxury brands get done with this tradition.