Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, how can so many clothes be destroyed every year often without ever being worn? The problem lies with retailers and the way they choose what clothes to make and sell.
Traditionally fashion retailers are designing and making clothing collections months before they hit the shops. Because they design so far in advance and without knowing what customers are likely to buy they create lots of different items (each item is called a SKU in the fashion industry). The average fashion retailer brings thousands of SKUs to market each year in a spray and pray approach. For example, in 2021, Zara offered 50,000 new SKUs on its website while H&M had 25,000 and fast fashion retailer Shein brought in a whopping 1.5 million. Retailers know not all items or colours will be popular but by offering so many thousands of different options they know that by the law of averages some will be sell outs…and they build in price margins to compensate for those that won’t sell.