A branch of the closing bridal store chain Priscilla of Boston has come under fire for destroying countless designer wedding dresses and tossing boxes of merchandise. While the retailer, whose 19 locations across the country are going out of business, says it was just following protocol, incensed merchants and civilians alike are asking why the dresses weren’t donated instead of simply ruined and tossed aside.
The dress-destruction went down at the Priscilla of Boston in Edina, Minnesota earlier this week. Customers and onlookers watched in horror as the store’s employees took dresses by designers like Vera Wang — some of which still had their price tags firmly attached to their bodices — into a rusted storage container in a parking lot and spray painted red Xs on them. Some onlookers tried to grab a few dresses so they could be salvaged and donated to people who couldn’t afford them, but most of the merchandise ended up being thrown away.
Priscilla of Boston, which is owned by David’s Bridal, explained to TV reporters that it usually donates unused dresses to charities, but that it normally got rid of merchandise that was “damaged, soiled or in otherwise poor condition.” But as far as the people who saw the dresses getting destroyed were concerned, there was nothing wrong with these dresses — except for the red spray paint all over them.
So why were the dresses destroyed? An analyst who spoke to the Minneapolis Star Tribune explained that most retailers that sell high-end merchandise have a contractual obligation to destroy unsold merchandise or stuff that they can’t do anything with. It’s a method of protecting high-end designer clothing from being resold on eBay or at thrift stores, and ultimately an attempt to prevent brand dilution. “Sometimes even donated goods end up online or in thrift stores, and that destroys the value of the label, of the full-price market,” the analyst said.
It’s a pretty messed up thing to do, considering how many people could used a donated or low-cost wedding dress and other garments — so you would think brands and retailers who engage in this practice would want it done behind closed doors, and not outside a mall during peak shopping hours. You’ll get an eyeful of just that in the video below.