Luxury brand Coach announced that it will no longer destroy damaged or “unsaleable” goods returned to its stores, after a viral TikTok video claimed the label intentionally “slashed” unwanted items for tax purposes.
Holding up slashed bags, shoes with cut straps and a jacket with large rips, Sacks alleged in the video that the practice was part of a “tax loophole” that sees the brand write off products “as if they were accidentally destroyed.” Neither Coach nor its parent company, Tapestry, responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
The luxury brand has said it will no longer destroy unsalable or damaged products returned to its stores. Credit: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
The label is by no means the only luxury company thought to intentionally destroy unwanted inventory. The practice is usually aimed at preventing excess stock being sold at cheaper prices and damaging brands’ exclusivity.
But critics of Coach’s alleged policy drew attention to the brand’s (Re)Loved program, a repair service and resale platform marketed as “a less wasteful way of doing things.” In the video, Sacks said she intended to send the damaged items to the repair service to see if the label would fix them for her.
Coach’s Instagram statement said the brand was “committed to sustainability” and “dedicated to maximizing such products reuse in our Coach (Re)Loved and other circularity programs.”
Tapestry, which also owns brands including Kate Spade and Monique Lhuillier, said in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report that it had repaired 28,258 Coach items — amounting to 85% of those sent to the brand that year — and was “continuing to develop scalable solutions” for the remaining 15%.
Speaking to CNN via WhatsApp, Sacks welcomed Coach’s response as “a start.”
“I want to emphasize again that Coach is the brand who was publicly caught this time, but this remains a widespread practice in the fashion industry,” she said. “My fear is that other brands, instead of getting serious about right sizing production, will continue overproducing and destroying only now being extra careful to hide evidence.
“This might include using compactors, locking dumpsters, and forcing employees to sign punitive (non-disclosure agreements). It will be a shame, and to the detriment of our planet, if this is the lesson that the fashion industry takes away from this Coach incident. That’s my biggest fear with exposing the destruction.”