Update: H and M – What a Waste

When I chose to write about the issue of H&M destroying unsold merchandise, I had no idea that the articles I found were just the tip of the iceberg. Upon further inspection, I have come to realize that the reporting Jim Dwyer did at the beginning of the month opened a giant can of worms I failed to fully understand or research properly.

Jim Dwyer‘s original article was posted on January 5 and began with a description of homeless people digging through the trash outside of H&M to salvage any clothing that hadn’t been purposely destroyed. The article then states that in the same area of New York City, a graduate student had found bags of tagged clothing from Wal-Mart that had also been purposely destroyed and thrown out. The next day, Dwyer posted a follow up article quoting an H&M spokeswoman and recapping his original post. These are the two articles I read and wrote about in my previous post.

third article, posted by Dwyer on January 10, does further reporting on the New York Clothing Bank, an organization which collects unsold clothing from retail stores, strips the labels and tags and donates the goods to other organizations, who assist more than 80,000 needy individuals. Dwyer then discusses the reaction to his two original posts – he claims to have received hundreds of emails from people working in retail who stated that their stores destroy garments the way H&M and Wal-Mart were caught doing.

He then delves into the reasons, many of which didn’t (but should have) occurred to me. He discusses branding & imaging -the notion that a clothing company does not want homeless people wearing their label, as it “defeats the purpose” of pouring millions of dollars into advertising and modeling.

In addition, he states that if a store were to throw out or donate clothing in good condition, individuals could easily take the items and attempt to return them at stores, causing the companies to lose huge amounts of money.

These articles have created a whirlwind of reaction – other articles and blog posts have reported on other stores that have done similar things and the outrage is clearly rampant. The most shocking blog post I found was written by another NYC resident who found hundreds of dollars worth of slightly worn down Urban Outfitters merchandise in boxes placed on the street and marked “broken glass”. Once the blogger was caught digging through the boxes, a staff member at Urban Outfitters threatened that the police were on their way and claimed that the boxes were being donated to the Salvation Army.

This post brings up a whole slew of other incredibly interesting, confusing and heartbreaking issues. I cannot really even begin to wrap my head around all of it, but the bottom line is this: no matter how much money you’ve spent on advertising your brand, whether you are Wal-Mart, H&M or Urban Outfitters, it should never be okay to let protecting the value of your label push you to do something so bizarre as destroy clothing that is desperately needed not only in the United States, but across the world.

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January 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

newbury trip

I know, I know – I shouldnt be shopping. I shouldnt even be thinking about shopping. But Erin and Lena are both speech pathology majors, and they have a speech dance [“sprom”] that Erin is taking me as her date to in a few weeks, and Lena needed a dress. Since Lena loves Lilly Pulitzer, we went to the “in the pink” Lilly store on Newbury Street. When she was in France last week, Erin got a duffel size Longchamp, which she wanted a long strap for, so we were going to go to the Longchamp store as well.

At Lilly, Lena tried on a ton of dresses, all of which looked great on her. The initial problem was probably that all of Lilly’s dresses, while really fun and bright, aren’t the kind of semi-formal cocktail dresses that we were looking for. Although most of the items in the store weren’t my cup of tea, I have to admit that all of the dresses were incredibly flattering on Lena. There’s something about the cut of the dress which really suits her. Now that I think about it, I have a very simple boat neck Banana Republic dress in a khaki color that is much more flattering on me than I thought it would be when my mom threw it at me in the fitting room just because it was on sale.

Anyways, like I said, the majority of this stuff I cannot see on myself. As my friend Kate put it, Lilly Pulitzer is “like vera bradley but more expensive”. While I will admit that the online site doesn’t do the dresses justice, I think my problem with the store in general is just that it’s very very expensive and all of the items are all one specific type of look. Of course I love the flowery, bright, summery feel, but the price tag just scares me. It feels very wealthy martha’s vineyard type, which part of me adores and part of me wants to roll my eyes at.
The store in general was just very overwhelming. There were so many items and so many bright colors – I felt like I could’ve spent hours just looking through the racks. There were two sales ladies, one of whom was super sweet, friendly and just incredibly interested in sprom and finding a dress for Lena. She complimented Erin’s Longchamp and was talking to us naturally – she was truly a sweetheart. The other girl, who was very clearly the manager, was older and clearly much more motivated in the sale of the dresses, not getting to know Lena and really help us find what we were looking for. I think the manager’s attitude really put Lena off. It felt like she was pressuring her to drop almost $800 on just two dresses, which as a college student Lena clearly can’t afford. Where as the other girl seemed more understanding, the manager just had a disgusted look on her face when Lena said she was going to wait and mull it over. We eventually left empty handed, but below are all the dresses Lena tried and her thoughts/reactions to all of them.

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Like I said, the picture truly doesn’t do the dress justice, and I know that it looks slightly frumpy, but when Lena had it on it really looked so cute. The manager was wearing it also, and I really liked it on her as well. Problems with the dress were 1) it was $288 and 2) it’s meant to be a summer dress, but its thicker material and more coverage on the neck and arms might not make it an ideal thing to be wearing out on hot days, especially for Lena because she tends to overheat.

348This dress had sequins on it, which I really liked. The pattern wasn’t my favorite, and the other two Pulitzer dresses that Lena owns are this cut. At $348, Lena decided to pass.

398398-close-upThis one was probably my least favorite, just because it’s so simple and I felt like it wasn’t as flattering on Lena. The ruffles at the bottom were slightly overwhelming, and with a price tag of $400, we decided to pass.

398-tri-colorThis one is definitely my favorite of all the dresses. Of course, it’s also priced at $398, which made Lena very hesitant. We felt that of all the dresses, it was one of the more appropriate for sprom. The picture doesnt show it very well, but the center of the dress is macrame, but shiny-like beads over it. I know it sounds too intense, but it really was flattering on Lena. Of course at that price, we had to leave the dress hanging on the rack, and Lena wasn’t as in love with it as Erin and I were, so we left.

We then headed to Longchamp, who informed Erin that they dont have long straps and I fell in love with a $215 wallet. Oopsie? I resisted though, mostly because I could feel the sales associate’s judging eyes on my target puffy jacket & my forever 21 purse. Clearly I am not good enough to own a Longchamp wallet.

Then we headed to H&M, because after Lena’s frustration with Lilly, we decided we could find her something just and cute, but more appropriate and way less expensive there. I became infatuated with a purple faux suit jacket which I ended up purchasing for $34.50 [I can wear it to interviews AND to work when I get a job, and the color screams me and it’s just so unique and fun]

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I also got this scarf for $7 which I am debating how I will wear – its tricky because it’s basically a big square of material, but I love the colors and I just have to figure out how to tie it around my neck without looking too silly.

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Erin found this absolutely adorable trench coat, which she’s been saying she needs for ages, so that was a huge success.

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Lena found a great dress, which of course I dont have a picture of and H&M doesn’t have a website but the top is a sort of scrunched white material and the bottom looks like longer, navy pencil skirt that has the top tucked into it. We decided with pearls and some cute pumps she’ll be all set for sprom.

Success!

March 12, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.