How a Viral TikTok Video Pulled Back the Curtain on the Fashion Industry’s Wasteful Practices

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"Do fashion brands destroy unsold merchandise? Here's what a viral TikTok video of slashed Coach bags uncovered about the industry."

TikTok may be notorious for its fast fashion clothing hauls, but today it turned the tables on the fashion industry when one user called out designer brand, Coach, for destroying unsold bags.

The video from Anna Sacks of @thetrashwalker, which has since gone viral with 2.4 million views, shows several beautiful Coach bags that were found in a dumpster outside a mall. Except, one thing’s wrong: They all have giant slashes down the middle, making them totally unusable.

Does Coach Destroy Unsold Bags?

coach destroys merchandise

Sacks claimed she purchased these destroyed Coach bags from a TikToker who found them in the dumpster.

“This is what they do with unwanted merchandise,” Sacks said. “They order an employee to deliberately slash it, so no one can use it. Then they write it off as a tax write-off under the same tax loophole as if it was accidentally destroyed.”

While the act of destroying merchandise and sending it straight to landfill is already sad enough for the planet, something that makes matters worse for the brand is that it claims to support a circular economy. It even has a free repair program with the motto “don’t ditch it, repair it” on its website. Based off of this news, Coach may want to take its own advice.

“I’m going to bring some of these [bags] into Coach and ask for them to repair it for me,” Sacks says. “Because according to their website, they really care about the circular economy and really care about sustainability.”

While this particular incident has garnered a lot of attention online this week, this practice is unfortunately more common than you think.

Coach Isn’t Alone: Other Brands Destroy Merchandise, Too

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the fashion industry is responsible for a lot of textile waste. Less than 15% of textiles are recycled in the U.S., and over 11,000 pounds of textiles end up in the landfill every year. And Coach isn’t the only brand contributing to that number by destroying merchandise.

The Wall Street Journal reported on this practice years ago, claiming designer brands destroy unbought products to uphold the rarity of their brand and reduce their corporate taxes. These destroyed products are a tax write-off because they were “accidentally damaged.”

Similarly, a 2010 report revealed Walmart and H&M destroyed unbought clothes rather than donating them. More recently, Amazon, NikeVictoria’s Secret, and Eddie Bauer have all been accused of wasteful practices.

While some may have already known about this practice, Sacks’ video has opened many consumers’ eyes to the reality of designer leftovers. Coach denied destroying bags that could otherwise be donated, but employees have reportedly confirmed Coach’s practice of slashing old products.

It’s not just the fashion industry, either. In May, a similar TikTok went viral when a Dunkin’ employee filmed herself dumping out hundreds of leftover donuts at the end of her shift, raising a lot of questions about food waste at chain restaurants.

Only four days after Sacks’ TikTok, other users have joined the trend of revealing their companies’ unsustainable practices. Hundreds of TikTok users have posted their own videos, exposing how their employers made them shred Michael Kors bags, incinerate clothes with old branding, or pour bleach on just-expired food. 

What Does This Mean for You?

While these TikToks may be upsetting to see, they’re exposing unsustainable practices from large companies and allowing consumers to make more informed decisions. Even better, calling out these corporations may inspire much-needed change.

In the meantime, you may be thinking about how you can use this knowledge to shop more sustainably. First, make less purchases and only buy what you need: It’s the easiest (and cheapest!) way to better the planet. When you do need something, first try to thrift it locally or from an online thrift store. And when buying new, support trusted brands that have sustainable practices in place.

Being a conscious consumer isn’t always easy—especially with so much going on behind-the-scenes that we have no idea about. But there’s a lot of power in our dollars, and when we use them wisely, we can truly change the world.


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Do fashion brands destroy unsold merchandise? Here's what a viral TikTok video of slashed Coach bags uncovered about the industry.

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