The Vancouver, British Columbia-based athletic apparel and accessories firm is launching a re-commerce program — the retailer’s first — called Like New. The program kicks off in May, when Lululemon shoppers will be able to trade in gently used Lululemon apparel and bags for gift cards in its approximately 80 stores throughout California and Texas. Shoppers in those states can also exchange products by mail. Then in June, the retailer will begin reselling the traded-in items in the same markets, online and in stores.
“Lululemon is actively working to help create a healthier future,” Calvin McDonald, chief executive officer of Lululemon, said in a statement, adding that the program is a “meaningful step toward a circular ecosystem and demonstrates the sustainable innovation underway in product development and retail.
“We are focused on meeting the goals detailed in our Impact Agenda, including making 100 percent of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030,” he added.
But it’s not just Lululemon that’s thinking about pre-owned products. The fashion industry as a whole has placed renewed focus on the world of secondhand in the last few years.
In fact, the secondhand market is expected to reach $64 billion by 2025, according to a 2020 report by ThredUp, a peer-to-peer resale site.
Platforms like The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective and Rebag let shoppers purchase gently used luxury products that were once out of their price range. There are also firms such as Poshmark, OfferUp and Mercari that are capitalizing off the resale trend by letting consumers sell used apparel, accessories and home goods across all price levels to others for a small fee. Macy’s partnered with ThredUp in 2019 by installing about 40 ThredUp shops-in-shop in select stores, further emphasizing the future of resale in the fashion industry.
Now some retailers are beginning to offer resale services for their own products. In October, Levi Strauss & Co. launched Levi’s SecondHand, allowing shoppers to turn in old jeans and jackets in exchange for gift cards to purchase new Levi’s products. Earlier this month, Nike launched Nike Refurbished in 15 stores, buying back and reselling lightly worn sneakers and shoes with manufacturing defects. The shoes are refurbished and sold for a reduced price.
Lululemon’s Like New program will serve as a test run, using customer feedback and focusing “on creating a successful pilot this year in order to inform future scaling plans,” the company said.
Meanwhile, 100 percent of profits from the Like New program will be reinvested into the company’s sustainability initiatives to create additional circular product designs, renew and recycle programs and store environmental programs.
All Lululemon men and women’s apparel and some bags are eligible for the Like New program and must be in “like new” condition, the company said. Intimates, swimwear, collaborations and accessories are not eligible. In addition, all products will be cleaned and sanitized before they’re resold. Shoppers will receive between $5 and $25 for each piece bought back on a Lululemon gift card that can be used to purchase new products.
“The gift card is intended to be an incentive for our guests to extend the life of our products,” the company said. “This is in addition to the environmental benefit of trading in product, which reduces 50 percent of the product’s carbon footprint.”
Also on Tuesday, Lululemon revealed it will be releasing a limited-edition Earth Dye capsule collection on May 11. The men’s and women’s collection, which will be available at Lululemon stores and shop.lululemon.com, is made from “earth-friendly dyes,” or lower-impact dyes upcycled from the plant waste of oranges, beets and saw palmetto trees sourced from the agricultural and herbal industries. These dyes use less water, carbon and synthetic chemicals compared to conventional synthetic dyes, Lululemon said.