Whatever happened to all those unsightly metallic brown, fur-trimmed puffer jackets on the clearance rack at H&M? In all likelihood, they’re probably out back in a garbage bag, fiberfill busting out of box-cutter slashes.
On Tuesday, the Times published a story on retail giant H&M’s shady practice of purposely destroying and trashing brand new unsold clothes at their Herald Square location after a CUNY grad student, Cynthia Magnus, came forward with her discovery of bags upon bags of brand new, deliberately ruined clothing in the alley behind one of the store’s 10 Manhattan outposts. Magnus had written to the Swedish company offering to help organize a charitable way for the store to donate the unsold items, but it was the Times that brought the situation at West 35th Street to the attention of pissed off shoppers, and supposedly, that of H&M spokeswoman Nicole Christie. Christie issued a shocked gasp of a statement denying any knowledge of the wasteful methods, and announcing an investigation of just the Herald Square location.
Today, Christie kind of apologized, saying, “It will not happen again.” Unfortunately H&M’s Facebook page is still overrun with angry customers, some, like Magnus, offering to help organize the official policy of charitable donations, while others maintain they will no longer patronize the international chain–sparkly headbands and $5 sales be damned.
Perhaps the most telling response to the scandal, however, are the Facebook wall posts of people who claim to be current and former employees, like Camelia Williams and Brandi R. McNally, and say they know of, and have abided by the same practice at other H&M locations. Williams posted [sic], “I work for H&M this story about the clothing is true, and its a shame. its a horrible standard, but every h&m ive worked for does this, and ive worked at 3 stores. =(.” McNally added, “When something would be missing like 3 buttons, i’d be like why am i cutting this up right now??” The retailer has yet to respond to accusations that their slash-and-trash policy is company-wide, rather than an isolated incident at the Herald Square location, as it has been treated in the company’s recent statements. How do you say “my bad” in Swedish?