British fashion brand, Burberry, has been the focus of attention as it was revealed that the company destroyed unsold and unused clothes, accessories and cosmetics worth £28.6m ‘to protect its brand’. The news has brought into focus the norm of wasteful practice within the fashion industry.

As quoted in the BBC, “Burberry said that the energy generated from burning its products was captured, making it environmentally friendly”. Due to a number of factors, the brand had a surplus of luxury items, and as a way to control the market (so there isn’t a flood of cheap items), those products were destroyed.

The practice has come under renewed criticism, especially as ‘circularity’ and ‘sustainability’ have become a broader site of focus for both the public and industry.

Orsola de Castro, Founder and Creative Director of Fashion Revolution said:

The practice of destroying stock is actually quite widespread throughout the industry. It’s a direct consequence of mass production, and many other luxury brands and high street brands are doing this too.

We produce a staggering 100 to 150 billion items of clothing each year and as a direct result, we’re seeing huge amounts of surplus throughout the fashion supply chain. We need to tackle this problem at source; we need greater transparency throughout the fashion supply chain.

[…] It’s important to recognize it’s not just Burberry, who interestingly score reasonably well in our Fashion Transparency Index and champion lots of good sustainability initiatives. But the fashion industry needs to invest more in efficiency; there is a lot of talk of circularity and closed loop systems, but we are nowhere near real and effective upscalable solutions yet.

More here.

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