Friday, January 8, 2010

When Fashion Takes an Ugly Turn

Ladies, get ready to see the ugly side of fashion. Major retail chains are destroying and trashing perfectly good merchandise rather than donating the much-needed garments to charities. It is an extremely cold winter this year. And while a third of the city is poor, companies like H&M and Wal-Mart are purposely destroying unworn clothing nightly.

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.

A few doors down on 35th Street, hundreds of garments tagged for sale in Wal-Mart — hoodies and T-shirts and pants — were discovered in trash bags the week before Christmas, apparently dumped by a contractor for Wal-Mart that has space on the block.

And to make certain that the garments couldn’t be worn or sold, each piece of clothing had holes punched through it by a machine.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, said the company normally donates all its unworn goods to charities, and would have to investigate why the items found on 35th Street were discarded.

This week, a manager in the H & M store on 34th Street said inquiries about its disposal practices had to be made to its United States headquarters. However, various officials did not respond to 10 inquiries made Tuesday by phone and e-mail.

Directly around the corner from H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive.

“We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us,” said Colleen Farrell, a spokeswoman for New York Cares.

More than coats were tossed out. “The H & M thing was just ridiculous, not only clothing, but bags and bags of sturdy plastic hangers,” Ms. Magnus said. “I took a dozen of them. A girl can never have enough hangers.”

In a time like this, you’d wonder what the heck were they thinking?! What’s your take on this practice – do you agree or disagree with the intentional destruction of the garments rather than donating them to charity?

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