Two months after it was reported that Burberry, the British luxury fashion house, purposefully destroyed $36.8 million of unsold clothing, cosmetics, and perfume in 2017—$135 million in the last five years alone—the brand is changing its tune. In a new interview, CEO Marco Gobbetti tells Business of Fashion that Burberry will stop destroying its own stuff and will instead ban the use of animal fur (rabbit, fox, mink, Asiatic raccoon, and angora) from their product in an effort to make the business more sustainable.
And before you ask: Existing fur items will be phased out over time. They’re not setting them ablaze.
Gobbetti told BoF:
“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success...Last year we launched a new responsibility agenda, which is quite a broad agenda. Already part of our agenda was how we are dealing with waste and end-of-life products. So, within what is labelled as ‘destruction,’ there is already a significant part that is recycled or used or donated. That was the first step.”
“We are now in a position to [stop] destroying finished products, which we think, frankly, is just not modern. We think that modern luxury that doesn’t take into account the social and environmental responsibility really has no meaning.”
That’s all well and good, but he goes on to say Burberry still has to destroy all their beauty inventory because “as you know, beauty products expire and when they expire, there’s no legal way to recycle them. You are obliged to destroy them because they are hazardous.” He did not actually confirm that the beauty products destroyed in 2017 were, in fact, expired; for what it’s worth, there are women’s shelters everywhere that will accept cosmetic donations so, uh, something for dude to think about.
I struggle to applaud Burberry because no one wins under capitalism and they could have/should have offered shareholders the opportunity to purchase the unsold product and then, I don’t know, donated it right away instead of polluting the earth with its destruction? I digress. Maybe other brands that are still doing the same tired shit will learn to do the same.