The Pandemic, Excess Merchandise, and Wicked Problems

Dalton’s Article about the Dilemma of Unsold Clothing

Dalton’s article is an eye-opener. It is true most people do not know the damage the clothing industry has on the environment. It is quite unfortunate to know how fashion houses value their image over the quality of human life. There is a need to find different ways for luxury companies to maintain the scarcity and the exclusivity of their brand without destroying unsold stocks. According to a study, every piece of unsold clothes that ends up being burned emits greenhouse gases (Thomas, 2019). This is very damaging to the climate since it leads to global warming that can harm human health due to emissions and pollution. Developing a single clothing line requires a lot of resources, from human to natural resources. Most of these clothes use materials that can take up to 200 plus years to decompose while they emit methane which contaminates both groundwater and surface. Therefore, having 80% of such a cloth line disposed to land fills results in a lot of waste. We need to arm task fashion companies to take unsold clothes disassemble them, redesign them into new products and, ship them to the market again.

Fashion as a Wicked Problem

Fashion is a wicked problem. A wicked problem involves social or cultural issues that are challenging to solve due to their complexity and interconnection nature. Wicked problems lack clarity in both their solutions and aims. Additionally, they are subject to real-life challenges that undermine risk-free attempts to solve them. Just like poverty, climate change, and homelessness fashion can be seen as a problem. Fashion solutions need a great number of individuals to change their behavior and mindset.

Fashion has become threatening due to its direct and indirect effect on all creature on earth. The rapid development of the fashion business has made access to apparel easier. This has led to a culture of fast production, fast purchase, and fast destruction. Today fast fashion disposes of more waste compared to earlier years. In America, average clothes throw accounts for 80lbs every year, with 87% of the clothes ending up in the landfill. Overproduction of clothes which end up as dead stock also waste human and natural resources like labor, oil, water, and wood. These factors of production have the worst effect on the environment.

Fashion Companies Disposal of Unsold Goods

Fashion companies have various options for disposing of unsold clothes without damaging the environment. For starters, a fashion business can willingly donate clothes to charitable organizations. However, firms that are worried about potential negativity on their brands, can donate their unsold clothes to charities that offer de-branding services, for example, TRAID. Fashion companies can also dispose of their unsold stock through recycling. Recycling promotes sustainability, enhances work, and attracts a larger customer base. Also, fashion businesses can invest in second-hand clothes sale online. Putting brand new clothes on offer will help them to move faster and avoid dead inventory.

To deal with the impact of unsold clothes, brands have to recognize their environmental responsibility and invest in sustainable measures. Businesses need to ensure they carry out excellent market research before manufacturing to avoid excessive production. Market research will help fashion businesses to analyze the target market and the ideal consumer to avoid needless manufacturing.  Additionally, brands have to drop materials and ways that produce unwarranted environmental destruction, through the use of, sustainable textile-like organic cotton. Fashion brands can map the value chain, and look for ways to reduce negative social and environmental effects while building transparency and accountability. They can do this by understanding their supply chain, who is producing the materials, and what they are made of. Governments should ensure they develop stringent laws to govern waste management in the fashion industry and crackdown on the vise.

Brands can find various ways to be part of the fashion business without damaging the environment. For example, through the use of recycled and renewable materials to make clothes. Brands can also choose to make better clothes with responsible materials when disposed of will leave less pollution like recycled polyester and organic linen. They should think of how the materials used to make clothes impact the environment when the purchasers are done using them or when disposed of. To avoid having a lot of dead stock brands can design clothes or fashions that will last longer. Further, brands should engage in marketing strategies that will help their products to move faster.




Thomas, D. (2019). Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes. Penguin.

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