lululemon athletica on Tuesday announced its first-ever recommerce program and will pilot a trade-in program in California and Texas next month, with plans to expand to an online resale program in June, reports CNBC. According to a company press release, lululemon Like New is a recommerce model for guests to rethink, revive and rediscover lululemon product through a trade-in and resale program that directly reinvests profits to support additional sustainability initiatives, including circular product design, renew and recycle programs, and store environmental programs.
Starting in May, lululemon customers in California and Texas will be able to trade in gently used lululemon items in-store or by mail in exchange for a lululemon gift card. The following month, those gently used items will start to be sold online to people who want to pay less and don’t mind a bit of wear on their tops and bottoms. lululemon says 100 percent of profits from the pilot program will be reinvested into additional sustainability initiatives, further extending and amplifying the positive impact of lululemon Like New. The retailer will rely on shoppers’ feedback in the program before it scales it to other states and more stores.
Total Retail's Take: As consumer interest and spending increasingly go towards brands focused on sustainability, more retailers like lululemon are figuring out how they can be involved. The retailer will join a growing movement within the apparel and footwear industry to reduce waste and extend product life, while designing products that are said to be better for people and the planet. Just last week, Nike announced plans for a similar program to collect and resell gently worn sneakers. Retailers from Gap to Macy’s to Nordstrom have dipped their toes into the secondhand market, too, partnering with marketplaces like thredUP.
lululemon's recommerce initiative is a step towards goals promised in the brand's sweeping corporate sustainability Impact Agenda that launched in Fall 2020. The company says that eligible products need to be in “like new” condition, and gear that doesn't meet quality standards will be recycled through its longstanding partnership with debrand. All trade-in products will be cleaned using state-of-the-art technology, and lululemon has partnered with recommerce platform Trove to support with resale technology and operations.
At the same time, lululemon said it will also launch a limited-edition “Earth Dye” line of clothing that will use environmentally friendly dyes made from the upcycled waste of oranges, beets and saw palmetto trees.
“Our lululemon Like New and Earth Dye initiatives are both meaningful steps toward a circular ecosystem, and demonstrate the sustainable innovation underway in product development and retail,” said lululemon athletica CEO Calvin McDonald.
The question now is whether consumers will participate in the trade-in program, and if shoppers will be interested in purchasing products that have already been worn to grab branded gear at a lower price point.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Women in Retail Leadership Circle and sister brand Total Retail. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for both brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment recording interviews with retailers.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.