French Government to Ban Luxury Brands from Burning Unsold Goods

In a bid to further decrease the unnecessary waste the fashion industry produces; the French government are putting massive steps in place to do their part for the environment. 

Department Store. Photo Credit: Paris Perfect

Most mass-market stores mark-down the price of items when they’re looking to reduce stock levels. Some luxury brands even send old stock off to outlet stores to be sold during the “off seasons”. Others, as it was brought to light last year, burn it. Yep, you read that right…

It’s common practice for many luxury brands to burn unsold goods, or bury it deep in landfill, rather than discount the items for consumers. This is supposed to uphold the items exclusivity.

Last year, it was revealed that Burberry frequently destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of older stock. The luxury brand was met with backlash regarding the practice – and have since stopped doing so.

French President Emmanuel Macron has given Kering SA Chief Executive Officer, Francois-Henri Pinault, the lead on the effort to drastically decrease the rate of pollution.

“All of the major actors are working on these issues,” said Pinault. “The problem is that doing everything separately we don’t have the impact that we should.”

Earlier this month, the annual Pulse of the Fashion Industry report was released, and the results weren’t what the industry was expecting. Progress for sustainability had decreased by about a third from the previous year. When statistics as damning as those in the report are released, it seems absurd that brands are happy to contribute to the destruction of the environment in such a superficial way.

“The fact that this is how we’ve always done it doesn’t mean we should continue,” Pinault said. “Even if we don’t have solutions for everything, let’s commit.”

At a conference on fashion and sustainability in Copenhagen, French Deputy Ecology Minister Brune Poirson exclaimed his shock that brands still participate in these practices: “Too many companies feel OK with just throwing away or destroying the shoes or the clothing that haven’t been sold… You can’t do this anymore.”

Poirson has expressed his understanding that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with on an industry level but has said that the government will continue to pursue a ban.

Brands have already begun working towards a more sustainable future, with some houses banning the use of fur and shearling and offering vegan leather alternatives.

What other steps do you think the fashion industry needs to take to ensure a more sustainable future? Let us know in the comments.