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H&M under scrutiny for damaged clothes dump

Christine Demsteader · 8 Jan 2010, 13:07

Published: 08 Jan 2010 13:07 GMT+01:00

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The newspaper, which published the story on January 5th, suggested that trash bags filled with cut up clothing are a common sight on the street outside the store on the city’s 34th Street.

It alleges that clothes have willfully been destroyed in order that they cannot be either worn or sold on, before being thrown away.

A witness reports seeing around 20 bags with ruined gloves, shoes, socks and jackets on a particularly chilly day in early December.

The article also points out that close to the H&M store lie the offices of charity New York Cares, an organisation that hands out clothes to the needy.

When challenged about the disposal practices of the company, a store manager referred the newspaper to H&M's US headquarters who failed to make a response.

Speaking to The Local, Pernilla Halldin, H&M press spokesperson in Sweden, denies the clothes found outside the New York store were purposely damaged.

Responding to the story, she says the garments were already defective and unsuitable to either wear or sell.

”In this specific case the clothes did not meet our safety standards,” she said.

”They were either damaged returns that customers had complained about or used as display examples in store – shoes that had been punctured to fit on mannequins.”

Halldin added that a large amount of stock which remains unsold is donated to charity, in line with H&M’s company policy.

”Our goal is to give away the clothes we don’t sell,” Halldin said. “They are donated to organisations that we have an assignment with in each country.”

According to H&M, the reason there was so many bags of clothes on this occasion was because the store was undergoing a seasonal clear-out.

Story continues below…

When challenged as to whether the company can dispose of these items in a more environmental fashion, Halldin responded that H&M is looking into new possibilities as a result of the publicity aroused by the story.

”We have routines that are working but after this we are looking into our options even more,” she told The Local.

Christine Demsteader (christine.demsteader@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:47 January 8, 2010 by slickscott
This is effed up. But it doesnt surprise me that these blonde blue eyed scandinavian losers would do this. I dont know why people shop at this store. The clothes are not really stylistic or good quality. All sweden fashion is is a bunch of fake breasted blonde white woman with no talents who get into positions of prestige based on their looks
01:26 January 9, 2010 by xenyasai
Where are you from, slickscott?
11:14 January 9, 2010 by Jan-Bug
Exactly, where the frunk are you from slickscott?

And what has one thing to do with the other if I may ask? First of all it didn't even happen in this " blonde blue eyed scandinavian loser" country in the first place. This obviously took place in New York you dumb A---! And just because it happens to be a Swedish chain, it doesn't mean that we "blonde blue eyed losers" are responsible of every action going on in the rest of the world where H&M stores are located. Every store has their own management and none swede staff.

Your problem is obviously not the store itself by the way, but the oh so famous and beautiful blond, slim and tall scandinavian race. Pure envy is oozing out of your comment here slickscott. Get over yourself please!
11:50 January 9, 2010 by brøklyn_bjorn

Much of the NYC H&M staff is Latin and Asian.

Their clothes are at a great price point but also sub-par quality for the most part. H&M are like the Ikea of clothing ! But there are much worse options; The Gap, Old Navy, Urban Outfitters. Personally I prefer Uniqlo for cheap threads.

I hope H&M makes a policy change all around and keeps on eye on where their trash to treasure ends up going.
12:56 January 9, 2010 by Pacey
Ha Ha. Swedish Firms will have the same Swedish Mentality.
13:25 January 9, 2010 by Norrlands Turk
Walmart was caught for doing the same thing and was mentioned in the New York Times article but apparently excluded from this article by The Local. So stop blaming H&M Sweden. I bet most companies do this in the US.
16:36 January 9, 2010 by glamelixir
Exactly Norriands turk, Mc donalds does the same worldwide, is an american based policies to aoid legal actions from the recievers. If they pick things from the street and something happens they avoid responsability. Too long to explain.
23:01 January 9, 2010 by slickscott
Hey all; sorry hadnt been online in 23 hours. Ok ok your admonition of me is well received. Umm but yes this apparent marring of these clothing items and the placing of them in garbage bags may have been done by nonSwedish workers but the COMMAND to do so came from "white swedish aryan socialistic non stylistic plastic smiles plastic surgery" swedes in their home offices in Stockholm. I am from the US; currently living in shithole Texas but from Wisconsin. Finished with my masters in Computer science and trying to find job.
08:21 January 10, 2010 by Weekend_warrior
Yes, both WalMart and H&M were accused in the article of cutting up clothes, and dumping them in the garbage. I am sure The Local saw fit to leave WalMart out, as they are irrelevant to Swedish News. Furthermore, regardless of what country it took place in, this decision was carried out by the policy of H&M Corporation.

What blows my mind the most, is that even from a business perspective it makes no sense. By donating the clothes to charity, H&M would be able to write off the donations on their taxes. So I am really at a loss for their reasoning. WalMart too.
11:42 January 10, 2010 by Kaethar
Man, people are so gullible. ALL fashion companies around the world do this. It has everything to do with sustaining brand value. People are not going to want to pay good money for fashion if poor and homeless people can get the same clothes for free. People don't want to look poor or low class.

You can be all offended by this but it's basic business and basic capitalism. In Sweden it's a non-issue for H&M and other similar retailers to donate old clothes since Sweden is a relatively classless society. Foreign high-end outlets (such as Chanel and Gucci) still destroy their products in Sweden rather than donating them though. Again, for obvious reasons.
15:41 January 10, 2010 by kerostarfx
Yes, Kaethar is right. I used to work at a certain retail store in the US when I was a teenager, and the stuff that was marked on clearance and wouldn't sell after a certain date would go straight to the bin.

However I used to take some of the stuff home with me :D
22:02 January 10, 2010 by CanadianEh
This is actually common practice for many kinds of stores ranging from food, to clothing to even furniture. The reasoning behind this policy is to make sure that current and future shoppers don't just wait to pick up the thrown out clothing etc. It's cost effective for companies to do this as well as it keeps customers coming into the stores to check out reduced items.

Unfortunately we can only send letters and ask our governments to put pressure on retail chains to ditch this inhumane practice.
11:10 January 11, 2010 by Åskar
Whenever did H&M become a "high street fashion chain"?
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