This image was lost some time after publication.

What do you think retail chains like H&M do with all the perfectly good clothing that they don't manage to sell? If you guessed "slash it to shreds and dump it in the garbage," give yourself a prize.

Rather than give the items to poor, cold New Yorkers who could very much benefit from a new coat or sweater this time of year, the Swedish retailer destroys the merchandise, presumably so the items don't fall into the hands of some wily entrepreneur who sets up an unofficial H&M outlet on the second floor of a decrepit building on Canal Street. Per the Times:

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M's back door.

Making the matter especially ironic is the location of H&M's dumping ground:

Directly around the corner from H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive. "We'd be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us," said Colleen Farrell, a spokeswoman for New York Cares.

Handing over the stuff to New York Cares probably wouldn't work, since every other homeless man and woman in New York would soon be wearing new H&M clothing from head to toe, and that probably isn't the sort of branding the retailer is looking for. Maybe they could send it off to North Korea or something? They sure could use the clothing—have you been to Pyongyang in January? It's freezing!—and without any Westerners allowed inside the country, it's not like anyone would notice, would they?

A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed [NYT]