A recent twitter thread sparked debate amongst individuals on the topic of designer goods having been ended up easily accessible at stores like TKMaxx. The OP, Emma Hope Allwood, who happens to be the Head of Fashion at Dazed Digital, shared an image of her finding a Calvin Klein shirt by Raf Simons heavily discounted at the store. She briefly touches on the subject of how retailers and not luxury fashion houses will sell any unsold stock at the end of the season to TKMaxx. So, you might be thinking, what happens then to all the stock that these prodigious fashion houses can’t sell? Well, the dirty truth is that in the past these brands have always burned their unsold stock.
In 2018, an earnings report released by Burberry revealed that they had burned and destroyed an estimate of £28.6m worth in unsold goods in 2017 alone. This included clothes, bags and perfume are amongst these products disposed of in order to prevent a cheaper sale price. Investors, consumers and environmentalists expressed their outrage, but little did they know Burberry was just a small percentage of the problem going on behind closed doors in fashion.
It is widely known that many fashion houses share this practice and resort to the disposal of stock that has been left unsold by sending it to landfill or, alternatively, burning it particularly as they don’t want their recherché products to depreciate in value if it becomes too mainstream and easily attainable by the masses. “Becoming too widely available at a cheaper price through discount stores discourages full-price sales and sending products for recycling leaves them vulnerable to being stolen and sold on the black market,” Forbes explains.
This year the Prime Minister of France, Edouard Philippe, sought to ban the destruction of goods unsold from within the fashion industry, as the burning of unsold consumer products has long been a regular practice in by these luxury fashion houses. If fashion houses who use this common practice do not abide by the new laws and continue to burn their unsold stock or send them to landfill, harsh consequences may be involved, ranging from fines and financial penalties to prison time. But It wasn’t just the French Government calling for a change in this scheme; it was us as well.
The question araised is what should these fashion houses do instead of incinerating their unsold stock? Well they could potentially start by reducing their order quantity and the amount they produce, then recycle the goods that can be recycled from pre-existing stock, and donate or resell stock accordingly. Out-dated practices of disposal should no longer be used when there’s appropriate ways for this unsold stock to be handled.
Today we are more environmentally and ethically aware of the contribution fashion has to our environment, and want no play in the destruction of it. We buy less fast fashion and spend more on sustainably produced items, we we eat less animal products due to the agricultural impact on our environment and try to buy less in general as the main consumers of our generation.