An estimated £90 million in stock has been burned over the last five years.
Burberry is a coveted British label, famous for their classic trench coats and use of the novacheck print.
However, they seem to be producing more upmarket clothing than they can actually sell.
In the past year alone, the brand has destroyed more than £28m-worth of unsold stock – the equivalent of over 20,000 trench coats, the which clock in at around £1,450.
Burberry’s latest accounts show that the value of its waste has increased by 50% in two years. The value of the brand’s waste is now almost six times greater than it was in 2013.
According to Burberry, excess stock is burned so that garments don’t end up on the ‘grey market’, where they might fall into the hands of illegal counterfeiters.
Burberry says that burning is an industry-wide practice and one of the steps they take to protect the brand’s intellectual property.
However, industry insiders have alleged that the brand burns clothes to stop them being sold at low prices and worn by the ‘wrong people’.
Twitter users have slammed Burberry for their decision to burn millions of pounds’ worth of garments, accusing them of snobbery, trying to keep their clothes out of the hands of poor people and disregard for the environment.
Although Burberry says that it ‘burns the stock in a responsible way, partnering with specialists who are able to harness the energy from the process’, surely it was a massive waste of resources to make the clothes in the first place if they would simply be burned as trash.
Having a Burberry coat to copy would definitely make it easier for someone who wanted to make a dupe of the item, but they could hypothetically walk into a shop and just buy one to copy from. The counterfeiter would easily make their money back from the initial purchase by selling a bunch of lookalikes.
Burning excess stock doesn’t guarantee that counterfeiters will never be able to copy from a Burberry item.
A Burberry spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘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.
‘This is a core part of our responsibility strategy to 2022 and we have forged partnerships and committed support to innovative organisations to help reach this goal.’
Over the last few years, Burberry has donated over 5,000 items of business clothing to Smart Works, a UK charity that provides unemployed women with clothes and training to help them succeed in job interviews.
However, this donation is very small in comparison to the stock that Burberry destroys every year.
The discussion around Burberry’s practices is making people ask questions about class and the stigmatisation of poverty, particularly at a time when half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks and one in five are struggling to put food on the table.
Exclusivity obviously matters to the brand, as there are plenty of alternatives to making a big bonfire of their stock.
Instead of slowing production on items when garments weren’t selling as fast as predicted, recycling the items, removing the tags and giving them to charity, or publicly donating them as a positive PR exercise, Burberry chooses to set fire to millions and millions of pounds’ worth of luxury items.
Hey, at least the ‘wrong people’ aren’t wearing them.