H&M Slashes and Trashes Unsold Merchandise

Credit: Sfhazwaste/Flickr

What: From our “what-the-hell” files, apparently retailers like H&M trash some of their unsold merchandise and mutilate those garments so they can’t be worn or resold. Really. Even in this economy.

The New York Times Says:

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.

What I Say:This is a very sad story. Sad because there are so many people struggling, trying to keep their families fed and clothed, yet companies would rather take the tax write off than donate the clothing. To make matters worse, the 35th street location profiled in this article is right across from the non-profit, New York Cares, which gives coats to the needy in New York city.

As a side note, how many of you are going to check the trash bins outside of your local H&M?

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  1. says

    I’m just not surprised by this, many stores will get you for stealing even if they’ve thrown their items away. I’ve worked at several places who told stories catching people going through their dumpsters and calling the cops on them.
    These were not clothing stores, but I imagine it isn’t too different.

  2. issyme says

    Better yet, how many of us will stop doing business with H&M ? How utterly arrogant of them.

    I am going to write the company and say “no more “.

  3. says

    TBF, yes this is very sad and WASTEFUL. I blogged on this yesterday, and my readers are writing in to say that this is a common practice in retail and H&M is not the only one doing it.
    Meanwhile, H&M has stated that this will never happen again.

  4. MARTHIE says


  5. says

    It seems like they might also be able to get a tax break for donating the clothes.Calling it to their attention seems like a good route.There are a lot of decisions in business that are not thought through very well and seem evil at first glance-let’s see if H&M and others can get a little more creative?

  6. issyme says

    Apparently, this is a common practice at Wal-Mart as well. It is so utterly disgusting on soooo many levels : from the poverty to environmental impact. Luckily, this is giving them such bad press that it may change, especially at H&M. I don’t believe a word that comes out of any Wal-Mart rep’s mouth. As Davis said, most of the H&M clothing is for smaller people, which somehow seems worse to me, imagine all the children they could dress for the winter ? For people like us, on this blog, it is about fashion for other people it is about staying warm and having shoes and or even having decent clothing for finding a job. Luckily, I don’t need cheap clothing badly enough to do business with these types of companies.

  7. says

    Terrible, just terrible. Of course it happens with many companies (think of how much food we dump each year). When will companies realize that the most profitable course is also the eco/socially-responsible course of action? I’m hopeful they can find ways to recycle/donate excess inventory without hurting their profit margins.

  8. Tamalalee says

    I find this practice of shredding clothes instead of donating to charity horribly irresponsible and ignorant. I worked for a time at TJ Maxx and I know for a fact that they donate their”leftovers” to charity and/or to local charitable thrift shops. I think that Target also does this as I have seen their merchandise in the Disabled Veterans Thrift Store. But what would be so terrible if one of their employees who earn minimum wage, get no benefits or any other incentives (no longer do stores give 15-30% off for employees) and are expected to work their buts off –to get the occasional top or pants that could not be sold. I do not get the stinginess of companies.

  9. Sarah says

    None of the retail companies I’ve worked for ever destroyed perfectly good clothing, but slightly damaged, used, or worn items are often destroyed (that way people don’t find them in the dumpster and try to return them claiming it was defective – seriously this happens all the time w/retailers). The thing is once you start giving that stuff away then people start selling your brand’s items on ebay, craigslist, etc. and it lowers the market value and you still get those fraudulent returns. There’s got to be a better way, though. Maybe if they cut out the brand name tags and then donated them to shelters, then they could do some good with the unsellable merchandise.

  10. Brenda says

    Given all the attention this has created in the blogosphere, let’s see if fashion blogs STOP touting their clothes and collabos. I stopped shopping at H&M years ago. I walked in one recently, an employee said she’s embarrassed to let anyone know she works there because the clothes are cheap and not of a good quality. After this horror story, I won’t ever step foot in an H&M again.

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