Flaming out: Burberry ends practice of destroying unsold products

September 7, 2018

Do you have money—or costly clothes—to burn? Until this week, the British luxury fashion house Burberry did exactly that with garments that did not sell out in-season, so that their posh clients would not see the “hoi polloi” wearing the same raincoat or outfit at half price.

In fact, according to the BBC, in 2017, Burberry burned about US$37 million worth of unsold goods.

However, the label took a lot of heat for from environmentalists for its conspicuous and lavish destruction of unsold inventory—and now management has opted to operate in a way that’s more politically correct.

In a September 6 press release, Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said, “Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.” The policy change will come into “immediate effect.”

What’s more, the company said, in another bow to environmentalists, their stores would stop selling “real fur,” promising that, “There will be no real fur in Riccardo Tisci’s debut collection for Burberry later this month, and we will phase out existing real fur products.

These commitments, the venerable fashion house said, build on “the goals that we set last year as part of our five-year responsibility agenda.”

Indeed, Burberry noted, to “tackle the causes of waste,” the group already is set to “reuse, repair, donate, or recycle unsaleable products and we will continue to expand these efforts.”

In doing so, the company stated outlined, “Our responsibility goals cover the entire footprint of our operations and extend to the communities around us. “

In May, Burberry said, it became a core partner of the Make Fashion Circular Initiative convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In doing so, the brand has created a partnership with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse, through which it will transform 120 tons of leather offcuts into new products over the next five years.

In addition, the Burberry Foundation in establishing the Burberry Material Futures Research Group with the Royal College of Art to invent new sustainable materials.

“We continue to invest in communities, from supporting young people in disadvantaged areas of London and Yorkshire, to developing a more inclusive and sustainable cashmere industry in Afghanistan,” the fashion line stated. “These efforts have been recognized by Burberry’s inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the third consecutive year.”

Research contact: corporate.responsibility@burberry.com

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