Slashers’ Work Ruins boots dumped in Nike store

Dressed in a tuxedo, Ryan Matzner walked past piles of trash outside a large Nike store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Then he stopped. It was Tuesday evening, in the pouring rain. One of the garbage bags had caught his eye.

Were those shoes in there?

He made a small hole to see better. Shoes were indeed in the trash bag, and from what he could see, there were a lot of them. A bag of shoes might come in handy: At his girlfriend’s apartment building in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, neighbors left unnecessary clothes in a hallway rather than throwing them away, and they were quickly picked up.

Mr. Matzner, 32, was heading to a birthday party in black tie. Showing up in a tuxedo with a trash bag full of sneakers didn’t seem like a good idea. “I left him alone and headed to the party,” Mr. Matzner said.

At the rally, he met a friend, Lauren Wagner, and they agreed to share a taxi back to Brooklyn. “First Ryan wanted to take a detour to review the bags,” said Ms Wagner, 29.

Seven years ago, Mr. Matzner read an About New York column about the new, unworn clothes discarded by the H&M store on 34th Street. (After the column was published, H&M vowed to donate unsold clothes to charity.) Maybe, he told Ms. Wagner, it was similar.

In their formal evening attire, they went to work on the trash cans, which were piled up on Spring Street, around the corner from the grand Nike entrance on Broadway.

“Clear plastic bags,” Ms. Wagner said. “You could see right through them.”

The shoes looked like they had never been worn. “My first thought was that there were only shoes left and that’s why they were thrown away,” Mr Matzner said.

So they would be useless.

“Then we found the right shoes,” Ms. Wagner said.

“They seemed to form pairs,” Mr. Matzner said.

Ah, so maybe people could wear them.

Then they noticed that every shoe had been slashed.

“Heel to toe,” Ms. Wagner said.

“It looked like a box cutter,” Mr. Matzner said. “At first I thought maybe there were only a few that were accidentally damaged.”

But every shoe had been lacerated. This is precisely how H&M got rid of their clothes – made unbearable with blades and big hole punches. “Remembering the H&M story, I realized it must have been intentional,” Mr Matzner said.

Ms. Wagner found slashed T-shirts and sweaters in another bag. “Ryan and I were shocked,” she said. “It’s something I’ve never seen before or never expected to see.”

What was behind this destruction? “A small amount of product in our Nike SoHo store did not meet our standards for restocking, recycling or donation, so it has been disposed of,” Joy Davis Fair, a Nike spokeswoman, said in an email. mail. She did not explain why the shoes and clothes were slashed before being thrown away.

Many retailers will destroy clothing that cannot be sold in order to prevent expensive brand name products from entering society at little or no cost. Some companies simply don’t want their products – or even knockoffs of their products – worn by people who clearly can’t afford to pay for them.

For example, every year millions of dollars worth of counterfeit football jerseys, knit caps, windbreakers and related gear are seized by federal authorities ahead of the Super Bowl. By federal law, they must be destroyed, a requirement companies lobbied for after Hurricane Katrina refugees received counterfeit clothing held in a government warehouse.

As one legal commentator wrote, “After all, these companies didn’t spend millions of dollars on high-end advertising just to be associated with the ‘chic haven’.” In 2009, the New York Police Department destroyed tons of new, unworn clothing seized in counterfeit raids.

There’s no question of authenticity about the ruined things on Spring Street. Someone had attached a form to a shoe, describing the product as a “Kobe” and “Obsolete”.

Nike has long marketed Kobe basketball shoes endorsed by longtime Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He retired last spring, but Nike continues to sell Kobe shoes on its website at prices ranging from $79 to $245.

Mr. Matzner and Ms. Wagner both work in technology. They don’t need to collect shoes or clothes from the trash.

“If they had been usable, we would have made them available to people,” Ms Wagner said. “While we were going through the bags, a homeless man was standing on the street nearby and watching us. It was ridiculous.”

“Nothing was salvageable,” Mr. Matzner said. “Not even close.”

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