Where New York's Unsold Clothing Is Supposed To Go


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Last week Jim Dwyer of the New York Times wrote about destroyed clothing found behind the H&M; and Walmart, and their subsequent promise never to do this again. Walmart sent us a press release:

"Recently we were informed that several bags of samples were found on 35th Street in Manhattan, left by a supplier without our knowledge .This action was not in compliance with the Walmart apparel office's long-standing practice of donating all wearable samples to an extensive array of local charitable organizations, many of which have benefited tremendously."

One of those local charitable organizations has an interesting story.


In the 80s, inspired by the development of food banks, the New York Clothing Bank was developed to recover unworn clothing and excess inventory that was then being destroyed.

Dwyer explains why in Where Unsold Clothes Meet People in Need:

The reasons are complex. No business wants to compete with its own garbage, or risk having people show up at a store seeking refunds on clothes that were never sold. "That's why many retailers will damage unsold garments," said Luis Jimenez, the director of the Clothing Bank, which is now operated for the city by Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment.

Some businesses do not want their goods worn by poor people. Ed Foy, the founder of eFashionSolutions.com, said that brands invest billions of dollars in their images, using models and athletes, which makes them cautious about where donated leftovers might end up. "They want us to see that the people wearing their brands are the people we aspire to be," said Mr. Foy, a board member of the Clothing Bank. "They want to know, 'Who's wearing the clothing and how can that hurt my brand?' "

So the Clothing Bank not only takes the clothes, but removes the labels, keeps the stuff secure so that it cannot be stolen and resold, and distributes it carefully so that blocks of it don't end up on Canal Street. It's never easy in New York. More in the New York Times

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