You name any luxury brand, be it Zara, Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton to Cartier and Nike, all brands are involved in a process which for a better choice of words incinerates their unsold merchandise. The fashion industry’s dirty secret has maintained itself to become an age-old practice for which some companies have been called out and have changed their ways, but the reality for a vast majority still remains the same.
Here’s why all luxury brands burn their own unsold goods instead of adopting other methods of discarding their goods.
The world of fashion is rapidly changing and there is no constancy or a particular staple with which consumers are satisfied. With fast-fashion, a new launch on the runway gets manufactured and delivered in stores within a week’s time of the launch. As a result, the inventory levels are constantly fluctuating and a large portion of these goods stay unsold since a new designer batch is on its way to the store till the previous one gets sold.
Another aspect to this being the fact that brands want to maintain exclusivity through scarcity. The lesser the product’s availability, the higher the demand levels and even higher will be the market value of the branded products.
The environmentally viable option would be that of recycling or re-selling the goods, however, the cost involved in separating the garment from the buttons, zippers, beads, binding and a lot many other decorative garment accessories would cost the company a lot more than simply burning or shedding it. The manual labour involved would increase multifold as well. As for reusing them, although some companies do sell their goods as secondhand items, the practice is frowned upon by a majority of them since it brings in the aspect of exclusivity through scarcity back in the picture.
Companies do not want to cheat their clients who pay $3500 for a garment only to find it for $300 elsewhere.
To a larger extent, companies are involved in this process since it gives them the benefit of tax credits. As a result, they are compelled to destroy their products entirely and record the process as proof of the destruction. The two majorly used methods thus used are burning and shredding as opposed to landfilling or any other method of waste management.
It doesn’t just stop at luxury brands, a lot many other companies dealing in consumer goods are also found to have their returned/unused products being burnt. The implications caused by such acts affect the environment drastically and the fashion industry is known for being notorious in its ways of cutting corners with environmental sustainability.