After a viral TikTok video accused luxury accessories and apparel company Coach of deliberately cutting and discarding unsellable products, the brand announced it would ‘stop destroying’ goods returned as part of his commitment to sustainability, which the activist behind the video called a small step. towards change.
In a video posted to TikTok over the weekend that has since garnered more than 2.2 million views, waste activist Anna Sacks showed off cut-up handbags she allegedly bought from someone she says found them in a dumpster at a Coach store.
Sacks, who goes by @TheTrashWalker on TikTok and has been known to call out companies for their wasteful practices, alleged the products were intentionally ruined by Coach employees.
Sacks questioned the practice in light of Coach’s (Re)Loved program, which encourages customers to have their old branded merchandise restored by Coach or purchase pre-worn items through them.
In response to the backlash, Coach announced on Instagram Monday that damaged or unsaleable returned merchandise will no longer be destroyed.
In a statement to ForbesCoach said this merchandise was returned and was otherwise damaged and could not be sold or given away, and that it represents 1% of their products worldwide and 40% of their stores are already diverting these products for reuse.
Sacks remains skeptical. “I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I also think it felt deliberately limiting,” Sacks said. Forbes of Coach’s new promise. Sacks says she wants to see the brand commit to stop destroying any items it deems unsellable, not just returned goods.
Despite the practice, Tapestry, Coach’s parent company which also owns Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, highlighted its commitment to reducing their climate change impact to the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year. In its earnings report, Tapestry pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, source “eco-friendly” leather, reduce waste at its company and distribution and to obtain 100% renewable energy in all its sites.
Destroying merchandise has become a common practice in the fashion industry. The practice is carried out for a number of reasons, primarily that excess merchandise may be destroyed after removal from shelves to encourage shoppers to purchase new styles and keep items exclusive, Voice reported. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. According to Sacks, sustainability activists prefer that companies produce fewer goods overall so there isn’t as much to throw away, and that they donate, reuse or continue selling their unused products to create less waste. In 2019, the destruction of unsold goods was banned in France, where many high-end fashion houses have flagship stores. At the time, it was estimated that $730 million worth of returned, damaged, or excess products were intentionally ruined each year in the country by retailers aiming to maintain exclusivity. In 2018, Burberry destroyed $36.8 million of its excess merchandise, Voice reported. After calls to boycott the London-based brand, the policy was changed. It’s not just the high-end designers: in 2018, it was revealed that H&M would burn inventory they couldn’t sell.
France moves to ban destruction of unsold luxury goods for recycling (Forbes)
The State of Fashion Report – Sustainability is no longer the top priority (Forbes)
Why fashion brands destroy billions of their own merchandise every year (Vox)
Your addiction to H&M is wreaking havoc on the environment. Here’s how to crack it (Fast Company)