New York City Now Destroying Clothes, Laughing at Poor People

01/14/2010 10:57 AM |


Ever since he published an article last week about H&M’s clothes-destroying practices as witnessed in Herald Square, Jim Dwyer has been busy keeping tabs on the wastefulness going on About New York. First came the good news that H&M vowed to stop destroying unworn clothing AND to donate it to charitable groups. Then came a much more generous story about The New York City Clothing Bank, a non-profit that secures against the fears of retailers by removing labels, storing their donations safely, and distributing them purposefully so as to avoid a ready-made knock-off enterprise. But, according to another Dwyer follow-up, good hasn’t quite trumped evil after all: Add New York City to the list of clothes shredders and—I don’t know?—poor-haters who’d rather throw away clothing than come up with a better plan.

Up until about a year ago, the goods and clothing seized in raids of counterfeit operations around the City were donated to various non-profits so that they might be re-distributed to people in need. According to Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York City Police Department, no requests have been received since December 2008 and, therefore, the Department authorized “witnessed burns” and industrialized shredding of dozens of tractor-trailer loads of clothing and other bootlegged goods.

Operators of the Clothing Bank insist they have made many requests for donations but that the goodwill seems to have disappeared. William Montana, who sits on the board, hopes that practicality will prevail and that the donations will once again be routed towards the City’s needy rather than the incinerator on Long Island. The stock of men’s wear in particular has depleted to a dangerous level throughout the City’s clothing banks (as women’s fashion is prone to more frequent turnover and availability).

Playing the devil devil’s advocate, Robert Tucker, a lawyer to clients like Steve Madden, Zac Posen, and Ed Hardy, points out how much money the City spends to combat copyright infringement and how wasteful, in turn, that money appears when the goods are returned to streets. Sure, Bloomberg has made prosecution of such infringement an administrative priority, but Dwyer points out that the US Customs and Border Patrol was able to donate $78 million worth of confiscated goods to various grateful recipients last year with the consent of the trademark holders.

The City has recently begun working with World Vision in an attempt to extend the charitable work of Customs, as well as cities like LA, Detroit (Detroit?!?), El Paso, and San Francisco. Browne promises that the Department will continue to donate whenever they receive requests, and Montana asserts his belief in the power of good intentions and cooperation: “If we can get people to work together, we can do a lot of good in the world.”