Just when we thought H&M could do no wrong, our favorite cheap chic chain goes and lets us down. An article in today's New York Times exposed a horrific practice at the H&M in Herald Square: the store destroys brand new clothing on a nightly basis and dumps it outside the store where homeless people pick through it and try to salvage something they can wear. H&M doesn't just throw the stuff away in a dumpster. They slash all of it with box cutters or razors to make sure no one can wear or sell it. Gloves with the fingers cut off. Warm, insulated coats slashed across the body and arms. Little girls' Mary Janes cut through the instep.
We don't know where to begin. Many years ago I accompanied my mom to exchange a defective Kate Spade bag at Nordstrom back in the height of Kate Spade's coolness. I questioned the SA about what would be done with the defective bag. Would it be sent to a discount retailer? Donated? The answer: the bag was to be sent back to the factory where it would be burned. We can see the rationale in destroying defective designer merchandise to control the quality of the goods sold to the public, but H&M merchandise? Really?
We cannot imagine what it would be like to endure the hardships faced by the homeless and other poverty stricken people, and it is revolting to know that H&M, the world's third-biggest clothing retailer, engages in such an abhorrent practice.
Although H&M didn't respond to 10 inquiries from the Times in connection with this article, the company finally responded this afternoon on its Facebook page after someone posted a link to the NYT article. The company stated in part: "Our policy is to donate any damaged usable garments to charity. We're currently investigating an incident in a NY store that is not representative of our policy."
We hope something changes fast. We really love shopping at H&M, and this disgusting custom of slashing unwanted clothing makes us feel really badly about that.