A feature ran on the New York Times Magazine fashion blog exposing New York locations of H & M and Walmart and their practice of slashing and discarding unsold merchandise. The article reads, “A spokesperson for Wal-Mart told the Times that the store normally donates unused items to charities, and needed to investigate the 35th Street situation.” Indeed, I do believe this to be true. I have seen Wal-Mart merchandise at a local thrift store and given as in kind donations to groups as well. However, I am not sure of the practice of H&M.
The story was already told at the New York Fashion Blog. You can read it here. While I do understand the practice of slashing merchandise so that it cannot be looted and pilfered, in this day and age with sustainability being so important to consumers, any company who does this is committing PR suicide. The practice of sending merchandise to off price retailers and warehouses are also popular. The argument for those that don’t is that one doesn’t want to dilute the brand. Alternate methods such as rotating stock, and marketing special events may help clear the shelves instead. These are all corporate decisions.
While I find it troubling, I found some of the comments made even more troubling.
One commentator writes:
“would u (sic) rather them donate to homeless people and have homeless people wear the same jacket you just paid good money for at h&m?”
“agree that unused merchandise should be shipped out to poverty stricken countries where people do not have many resources or comforts. Not only would that be the morally correct thing to do, it would also create a better image for these companies (and the country).
As for the homeless in America who have access to the abundant resources of this country? Why are we working our asses off to pay for clothes, food, shelter, etc…when people who choose to be lazy can get it for free via handouts? I don’t think that is fair, it does not promote work ethic or responsibility. Yes, there are genuine cases of homeless who just fell on hard times and are actively trying to get on their feet… but for the most part, those I have met are unmotivated to clean up and become productive members of society. Idleness should not be rewarded.
I will give anyone the shirt off my back if they need it, but do not let me turn around the next day and see them not attempting to get their own shirt.”
I have several comments. Let’s start out at the diplomatic ones.
To me, the price of trendy retail is not solely about the price of the prestige of the brand or the quality of the item. A consumer is also paying to be the one to own it first and to be seen in it first. The person who buys it second may have purchased it at a lower price on sale or a clearance center, but they did not have the opportunity to be the first one to be seen in it or to have it before the beginning of the season. The instant gratification was not achieved. That sort of intangible is not often considered. It may be difficult to think about in regards to fashion, but there are rampant and familiar examples in the toy and technology world. When the Ipod first came out, there were folks that paid $500 or more just to be the first to have it in their hot little hands. Parents paid a hundred bucks to have a Cabbage Patch Kid under the Christmas tree rather than waiting for a birthday when they could buy it for $30, just for the experience of seeing a child’s face on Christmas morning. Those intangibles are what I am talking about and they directly relate to fashion.
Now…let me take my gloves off. I am so disheartened by people not wanting to take care of their own. Everyone wants to ship clothes and toys off to developing nations and ignore their brothers and sisters around the corner. There are people who are homeless through either no fault of their own. The woman who flees an abusive husband and has nowhere to go, the man whose apartment building burns down and he didn’t have proper renter’s insurance, the couple whose company shipped their jobs to another state and cannot find gainful work to pay the mortgage. The list goes on and on and on. Why are people living in other countries more noble and less lazy? People worry so much about crime and the economy. If we just stopped a moment and realized that someone’s bridge to getting on their feet might be clean clothes to wear to an interview or to send their kids to school in so they will not be rediculed for wearing the same outfit 4 days in a row, maybe we would start to get the picture. Apparently, the people making these comments were never “there.”
Off of my soapbox for now. Luckily, some of the commentators are getting on the cases of some of these folks, but one never knows if they will listen or at least consider how selfish they are. I don’t believe in free handouts. I don’t believe in lifetime social welfare. I believe in the “Teach a Man to Fish” scenario. However, that man needs something to wear and a fishing line to do so, right?Uncategorized | Comment (1)