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Coach will stop destroying unwanted property after TikTok outrage


Written by Megan C. Hills, CNN

Luxury brand Coach has announced that it will no longer destroy damaged or “unsaleable” products returned to its stores, after a viral TikTok video claimed the label intentionally “cut” unwanted items for tax purposes.

Without directly referring to the claims, the American brand wrote on Instagram on Tuesday that it had “stopped” destroying returns in store and would seek to “responsibly reuse, recycle and reuse excess or damaged products.”
The move follows claims from TikTok user Anna Sacks, who filmed herself unpacking Coach products that appeared to be rendered unusable. In the one-minute video, Sacks, who goes by @thetrashwalker, said Coach’s policy was “to order an employee to deliberately cut (junk merchandise) so that no one can use it.”

Holding torn bags, shoes with cut off suspenders and a jacket with large rips, Sacks alleged in the video that the practice was part of a “tax loophole” that sees the brand write off products “as if they were accidentally destroyed “. Neither Coach nor its parent company, Tapestry, responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

The video, which first appeared on TikTok on Saturday, has been liked over 560,000 times at the time of writing. The social media backlash escalated on Tuesday when Diet Prada, an influential fashion watchdog, posted the allegations on Instagram alongside videos appearing to show Coach’s items recovered from a dumpster.

The luxury brand has said it will no longer destroy unsaleable or damaged products returned to its stores. Credit: Budrul Chukrut / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Industry practices

The label is by no means the only luxury company to intentionally destroy unwanted inventory. This practice is generally aimed at preventing excess inventory from being sold at lower prices and harming brand exclusivity.

In 2018, Burberry announced it would stop burning unsold goods after finding it had destroyed more than $ 36 million worth of clothing and perfume the previous year. Various fashion houses, watchmakers and clothing companies have faced similar charges in recent years.

But critics of Coach’s alleged policy have drawn attention to the brand’s (Re) Loved program, a repair service and resale platform marketed as “a cheaper way of doing things.” In the video, Sacks said she intends to send the damaged items for repair to see if the label will fix them for her.

Coach’s Instagram statement said the brand is “committed to sustainability” and “dedicated to maximizing the reuse of these products in our Coach (Re) Loved and other circularity programs.”

Tapestry, which also owns brands such as Kate Spade and Monique Lhuillier, said in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report it had repaired 28,258 Coach items – 85% of those sent to the brand that year. – and that it “continued to develop scalable products. solutions ”for the remaining 15%.

Speaking to CNN via WhatsApp, Sacks hailed Coach’s response as “a start.”

“I want to stress again that Coach is the brand that has been publicly caught this time, but it remains a widespread practice in the fashion industry,” she said. “My fear is that other brands, instead of taking production sizing seriously, continue to overproduce and destroy only now with great care in hiding the evidence.

“This could include the use of compactors, locking dumpsters and requiring employees to sign punitive (non-disclosure) agreements. It would be a shame, and to the detriment of our planet, if it is. the lesson the fashion industry learns from. Coach incident. It’s my biggest fear in exposing destruction. “

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