Burberry reportedly burned merchandise worth 37.8 million dollars last year. The reason behind this carnage was to prevent the goods from being sold at a discounted price, to maintain the brand’s exclusivity. However, Burberry, isn’t the first luxury brand to choose brand value over the redistribution of their goods among “wrong people” at a discounted price. Brands like H&M, Chanel and Louis Vuitton also have been known to burn unsold stock. But Burberry seems to be going through rough times recently, failing to engage the attention of high-end customers. As a result of which it has “disposed’ goods worth 116 million dollars in the past five years.

Is it so horrendous to let your merchandise fall in the hands of “wrong people”? Would selling your products at a discounted price to curb wastage hurt the brand value that badly? Or the quest to maintain exclusivity of a brand comes with the cost of wastage of resources?

At the end of the day, it is the nature which is paying the price for this vulgar need of the high-end brands to be exclusive.

The price of exclusivity

Middle-class people who can get a head rush from being in the vicinity of luxury brand stores, cannot possibly understand the pressure of maintaining exclusivity. But in the cut-throat market that is high-end fashion, couture is only good when it is exclusive. No billionaire would want to pay 1200 dollars for a trench coat, which any Tom, Dick and Harry can prance around in, after buying it for a 70 percent discount. No rich woman would pluck a scarf from a high-end store, which she cannot call exclusive.


  • Luxury brand Burberry had reportedly burned merchandise worth 37.8 million dollars last year.
  • The move was an attempt to prevent their goods from being sold at a discounted price.
  • Many high-end brands like Chanel and H&M chose to torch their products over selling them at a discounted price.

Thus, fashion brands must take some ruthless calls to maintain their high-end clientele. The wastage of resources and effort put in for designing, manufacture, transport and putting these goods on display means nothing. The resultant pollution and by-products mean nothing. It is a line, at a whooping 37.8 million dollars and that is what separates those who cannot afford and those who can which matters the most.

Exclusivity is what gives a brand its value. It is what makes a trench coat worth 1200 dollar, despite being manufactured in maybe one-eighth of that price.

It sounds vulgar appeasement of the rich to ensure them that no filthy grubby non-classy people will ever be able to lay hands on what they have. This is another partition inserted by them in form of exclusivity which separates rich and elite from the rest of us.

What is more amusing is that luxury brands endorse this waste disposal with pride. It is not the last resort for them. It is a conscious decision meant to appease a stratum of people. A decision which is shouted out to the elite ones with a megaphone, because that is what it is all about. All we care for is your approval o rich, sir/madam. We will flush our expensive perfumes down the toilet. We will throw our coats and scarfs into the fire if they remain unsold. But we will never let those undeserving “wrong hands” come near them. Because you pay not for a shirt. You pay for a privilege. You are entitled to exclusivity. And that is of the utmost importance to us. The environment and our resources can go to hell.

But why must we only question brands like Burberry, when it’s the wealthy people who demand this exclusivity? It is a mutual relationship among these high-end retails and deep pockets which want their money to be put on display for everyone to see. Criticising Burberry thus is not enough. Every person who demands exclusivity and is willing to pay any price for that bear the blame here. Unless this mentality of elitist privilege doesn’t change, the brands won’t change their attitude. Sadly, it is the nature which will pay its price by sacrificing its resources.

Also Read: Could luxury be about simplicity?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Picture Credit: ABC News

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