For many consumers it’s the air of exclusivity and prestige that draws them to luxury brands. The big players in the industry (i.e. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, Hermès, the list goes on) have worked for years to carefully curate and cultivate their brand image. Over the years many of these luxury fashion houses have adopted the practice of burning and/or destroying unsold goods as a way to maintain brand integrity. While fast-fashion and mass-market apparel brands get rid of goods that don’t sell by offering customers deep discounts, luxury brands have long since steered clear of discounting out of season products.

According to Business of Fashion in 2017, Burberry reportedly destroyed almost $37 million worth of unsold goods. The UK based brand has since pledged to ban the harmful practice, and now France has followed suit with a new initiative aimed at targeting the practice.

“Too many companies feel OK with just throwing away or destroying the shoes or the clothing that haven’t been sold”

The luxury goods industry is one of France’s most lucrative businesses, but the industry as a whole leaves behind a heavy environmental footprint. In 2019, it’s no longer possible for brands to ignore the impact its practices have on the environment, and the French government has now made a public call to action. French Deputy Ecology Minister Brune Poirson has called on brands to make a change on the industry level, though she did say that the French government would aim to create an official ban. “Too many companies feel OK with just throwing away or destroying the shoes or the clothing that haven’t been sold. You can’t do this anymore. It’s shocking,” Poirson said.

It’s unclear yet what the timeline is for an official law banning the practice to take effect, but this call to action is an industry game changer. Luxury brands are going to have to get creative with how they get rid of out of date or unsold merchandise, especially if they refuse to discount.

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