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H&M under scrutiny for damaged clothes dump

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13:07 CET+01:00
An article in the New York Times has alleged that H&M garments are purposely being damaged and dumped by the Swedish high street fashion chain, rather than being donated to charity.

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.

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.

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