Caught! Victoria’s Secret Destroys Unworn Returned Merchandise

by , 04/27/11   filed under: Eco-Fashion News, The Big Idea

Victoria's Secret

Just when it seemed like H&M was finally cleaning up its act, another mass retailer has been caught with its pant(ie)s down. Lingerie company Victoria’s Secret is the latest big-box brand found guilty of destroying merchandise that could have easily gone to the homeless or victims of disaster. One Tampa, FL customer was left speechless after a Vicky’s clerk sheared the unworn sweatpants she just returned, right in front of her face. Sounds ludicrous, right? So why are so many companies still engaging in this heinous practice?

Victoria's Secret


Like we pointed out in our past article about H&M’s own clothes-cutting scandal, the main reason retailers destroy returned clothing is to maintain “brand integrity.” In other words, big brands don’t want to sell these castoffs for less or make them available for resale on the secondary market.

“Some stores may take last season’s golf clubs and bend them in half so someone couldn’t easily pick them from the trash and resell them,” Suzanne Long, retail practice leader at consulting company SSA & Company, tells Tampa Bay Online, which first reported the incident. “And some clothing designers may tell a retail store that sending back the clothes is not worth the money,” she adds. “And if the retailer feels it’s unsalable, they’ll just agree to go ahead and destroy it.”

What ever happened to blotting out tags and logos with a marker or snipping those in half—instead of the entire garment?

But in the case of the shopper who returned a pair of sweatpants (that cost $70, we might add) in near-mint condition, why couldn’t the offending garment simply go back on the rack? Is it so far-fetched to think that someone else might come along, like them, and still pay $70 for them? And what ever happened to blotting out tags and logos with a marker or snipping those in half—instead of the entire garment—and then selling the clothes at a sample sale?

If you’re as confused and shocked that Victoria’s Secret is continuing this practice even in light of all the recent negative press, leave the company a note to tell it to cease and desist.

+ Tampa Bay Online

+ Victoria’s Secret

[Via Jezebel]

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3 Responses to “Caught! Victoria’s Secret Destroys Unworn Returned Merchandise”

  1. Courtney Wantink says:

    This is crazy! I’ve seen this practice carried out by both fashion and non-fashion brands alike and it seems like an awful solution! For items that are returned in mint condition, it seems like they should be able to be re-sold.

    For those that are slightly damaged, there’s the option of ‘used’ sales (i.e. REI does a used-gear sale, selling off still-usable items for a fraction of their original price).

    OR the company has the option of donating those clothes to thrift stores and/or charities. Then they could at least write them off for tax purposes. Hmm… How can we motivate such companies to change their wasteful ways?

  2. CaptainWren (@CaptainWren) says:

    I can see if maybe there are health issues involved, but that’s all based on discretion. How exactly would you know if someone wore them, say commando-style, then returned them still with tags and all? I agree, destroying merch that could be at least donated is awful (especially after working at a particular game store where the same happened to beanies). But seeing as VS specializes in items that go over private parts (and not everyone is honest about their hygiene) things can get iffy in that department. Nothing some good-old detergent can’t nullify, but still companies have to really be careful without being careless!

  3. DianneA says:

    Hey all :) I wrote the company a letter and would like to offer it for use to others if they don’t have the time to create one themselves. Please feel free to use if you like, and pass along <3

    I recently heard it's company practice to destroy returned merchandise, rather than offering it for resale at a discount or donating it to an at need group. With the unfortunate level of waste already at play in so many aspects of our society, not taking reasonable measures to keep a product from becoming 'garbage' is distressing. Personally, I take many steps in life to reduce my waste.. I donate used clothes to shelters or thrift stores, recycle, and upcycle items, to assure that the energy and materials used in manufacture get the most life for the used resources. On the chance I may purchase an item and need to return it, as long as this remains company practice I will no longer be frequenting your establishments. Please consider changing your policy to reflect the possible benefit these items may have to others, as I would be happy to reconsider at that time.

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