Many luxury clothing brands do this to prevent this surplus being stolen or sold cheaply, and to stop counterfeiters from using the merchandise to copy their styles. Burberry went through a phase when counterfeiters were “sticking the Burberry check on anything they could”, said Maria Malone, principal lecturer on the fashion business at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“The reason they are doing this is so that the market is not flooded with discounts. They don’t want Burberry products to get into the hands of anyone who can sell them at a discount and devalue the brand,” Malone explained. Richemont, on the other hand, has had to buy back £430m worth of watches over the last two years, and only a few of the parts can be recycled.
Burberry said that the energy generated from burning its products was captured, making it environmentally friendly. “Burberry has careful processes in place to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce. On the occasions when disposal of products is necessary, we do so in a responsible manner and we continue to seek ways to reduce and revalue our waste,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Nonetheless, environmentalists are angry about this situation. “Despite their high prices, Burberry shows no respect for their own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them,” said Lu Yen Roloff of Greenpeace. “The growing amount of overstock points to overproduction, and instead of slowing down their production, they incinerate perfectly good clothes and products… It’s a dirty secret of the fashion industry. Burberry is just the tip of the iceberg.”