I worked at Burberry for three years and I shudder at the though of all the ‘defected’ garments i was instructed to put down to be destroyed in the incinerator.
Coming from a family of eight children where my mother never condoned waste of food, eat what you have till every last drop, money doesn’t grown on trees. To waste of clothes with six girls in the house the hand me down society has been going strong, etc.
Imagine my shock when I was made to place a 100% Scottish cashmere poncho, which had a little puncture in the seam thereby causing a rip (that could easily be fixed with needle and thread, mind you) in the destruction pile.
(I can only equate the feeling to my younger days when I saw the chef kill a live Christmas chicken and she promised me that when I’m older, I could have a go. Except, no thanks, because I’m scarred for life!)
Anyway Wastage in the Fashion industry has been going on for years and finally these big brands are being called out because it makes no sense.
Burberry was the first to be harangued for its careless behaviour.
Last year, after I had left the business, a wave of outrage spread across the internet when Burberry was exposed for burning a big pile of unsold clothes, accessories and perfumes worth 28.6 million (US$37 million).
So they took from selling defected stock to selling unsold stock as well.
Let me try and be neutral, lets take a look at the reasons behind this waste.
Tax Margins; Good on you, an ethical brand watchdog reported the following…
‘Luxury brands pay high levels of taxes and charges to import goods into the USA. But if the goods are unsold, and the brand exports them again or destroys them under US customs supervision, they can recover up to 99% of the taxes and charges they paid in a process known as ‘drawback’.’
Therefore there is a high financial incentive here for the brands to destroy these goods.
Exclusivity; it’s an attempt to deter second hand items from entering circulation.
Generational Trend; it’s been the tradition for years and sticking to tradition is the one thing these luxury brands do religiously.
Sorry, darling, waste is waste, especially if you claim an interest in recycled fashion and striving to preserve our earth.
Times are changing
I was happy to hear that Burberry had a change of heart.
They promised to stop burning things and even went ahead to partner with Elvis & Kresse, to transform offcuts from Burberry into new products over the next five years that will then be sold as E & K pieces.
Change is possible people!
So thank you internet fashion police, for calling out the mess in the fashion world.
Let’s continue to hold our faves responsible! Louis Vuitton and Gucci, they are coming for you next.
By: Joan K. Vincent-Otiono