On Tuesday, The New York Times broke a story about H&M deliberately destroying new, unsold clothes during a particularly harsh winter in New...
On Tuesday, The New York Times broke a story about H&M deliberately destroying new, unsold clothes during a particularly harsh winter in New York. Cynthia Magnus, a graduate student, had found the clothes-slashed and otherwise rendered unwearable-in the trash outside H&M's 34th Street. The clothes had been destroyed so that they wouldn't be resold or used for fraudulent refunds, but Magnus was incensed: Why not find some way to donate them?There are ways to donate them that don't hurt business. You can donate them in other countries, where there's no risk of cannibalizing your sales, or you can get in touch with shelters that can deface clothes, destroying any black market value, without rendering them useless for keeping warm.Magnus contacted H&M headquarters about the issue and got no response, so she took her story to the Times instead. And then it hit the blogs. There were stories on Inhabitat, TreeHugger, and PSFK, and many, many tweets.And guess what? Now someone at H&M has the time to pick up the phone. Once the media got involved, a representative got in touch with the Times in a hurry:
"It will not happen again," said Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H&M in New York. "We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice."It's unclear how widespread the practice actually is, though. H&M is denying that it's standard operating procedure but of course they are. To their credit, they do seem to be serious about ending it now. But it's too bad that H&M are clearly more motivated to fix PR problems than moral ones.What's the takeaway? Well, if you were on day three of an H&M boycott, maybe it can end (if you're feeling forgiving). And the media-old and new-can make a real difference in cases like this.