3 things Burberry could have done instead of burning $37 million worth of unsold goods.
Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images.

In 2017, the British luxury brand Burberry burned over $37 million worth of unsold clothes, perfumes, bags, and other goods.

And over the past five years, they've reportedly incinerated over $117 million worth.

The luxury brand intentionally destroys their surplus products as an attempt to help protect their brand and stock. According to the BBC, Burberry has been making serious efforts to make their goods appear as exclusive commodities after an uptick of counterfeit items have hit the gray market.


"The reason they are doing this is so that the market is not flooded with discounts," Maria Malone, a fashion business professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, told the BBC. "They don't want Burberry products to get into the hands of anyone who can sell them at a discount and devalue the brand."

But the exposure of this practice has people furious.

Clearly, the brand's priorities can and should be called into question, and people spoke out on social media.

Burberry definitely could've addressed this issue in ways that didn't involve completely destroying their products.

1. They could've slowed production.

While Burberry insisted that "the energy generated from burning its products was captured" — meaning it was done in a supposedly green way — at least a few environmental activists have criticized Burberry for wasting the natural resources used to make their products in the first place.

Lu Yen Roloff, an activist from Greenpeace, said that one way they could've prevented this is by slowing production of items rather than overproducing and destroying the excess.

"Despite their high prices, Burberry shows no respect for their own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to made them," Roloff told the BBC. "The growing amount of overstock points to overproduction, and instead of slowing down their production, they incinerate perfectly good clothes and products."

2. They could've de-branded and donated the goods to charity.

Others on Twitter suggested that by altering the appearance of their items, Burberry would be able to protect itself from cheapening the brand or enabling counterfeiters.

3. They could've garnered positive publicity by donating to charity.

While this may come off as unsavory, it's still a more conscious alternative to burning. Burberry could've simply donated their items to homeless shelters and other charitable organizations. The PR from such an act would have certainly attracted public attention — and more profit.

Burberry isn't the only brand that uses this practice, but let's hope they see the backlash and consider changing their ways.

Both Chanel and Louis Vuitton have intentionally destroyed their unwanted items to help make their brands remain "exclusive." But in a time where more people are grappling with poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness, these fashion brands should be aware of what kind of message they're sending.

Let's hope they recognize that their impact on the world matters.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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