Happy Holidays, Retailers Are Still Destroying Unsold Clothes and Blankets Instead Of Donating Them

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Fucked up reminder: Lots of department stores destroy unsold items instead of donating them.


The Outline picked up a tweet sent over the weekend depicting what appears to be pounds of Eddie Bauer blankets and coats tossed onto the pavement in New York City—not only tossed out, but shredded so they couldn’t be used.

In a statement to The Outline, a spokesperson for Eddie Bauer said that this particular store failed to adhere to the company policy of shipping unsold items to its main distribution center, where “any products that can be donated or salvaged are done so.” Is loading the items up and shipping them to the supplier somehow more labor intensive than going to the trouble of slicing them up? I wouldn’t think so!

This shit is extremely common throughout the retail world—in the past, Nike was found to have slashed unsold shoes, Victoria’s Secret has cut up sweatpants, and a JCPenny in Pittsburgh mutilated a large supply of Ralph Lauren goods. Perhaps the most widely reported instance of mandated apparel destruction came from H&M, which in 2010 was found to have been tossing out heaps of clothing its employees had first razored apart.

The resulting backlash against H&M prompted the retailer to stop ordering clothes destroyed, and in 2013, it also launched a recycling initiative encouraging people to drop off unwanted clothing.

But how effective are these programs? If Eddie Bauer has a policy in place for sorting its unsellable items, how did those blankets wind up shredded on the street? Wal-Mart, another company that’s been slammed for rendering its clothes unwearable, told the Times back in 2010 that “the company normally donates all its unworn goods to charities, and would have to investigate why the items found on 35th Street were discarded.”


Meanwhile, more than 60,000 people remain homeless in New York City, including nearly 24,000 children.



Policies like this exist for several reasons, the foremost of which is to prevent black market dealing out of the back alley (often by employees.) Home retailers like Pier 1 do this too. Another major reason is exclusivity—can’t have the poors looking like folks. Either way, it’s a shitty rationale.