Just a week after Nike launched its footwear refurbishment program, Lululemon on Tuesday announced its first recommerce program, dubbed Lululemon Like New, set to debut in May. The program will start as a trade-in pilot in California and Texas and expand into a resale program in those areas by June.
To participate, consumers can turn in Lululemon products in "like new" condition to the company's stores in exchange for a Lululemon e-gift card. All the profits from the program will be reinvested in the company's other sustainability initiatives.
The initiative is launching side-by-side with an Earth Dye limited-edition collection that uses Earth-friendly dyes upcycled from the waste of oranges, beets and saw palmetto trees. Both are part of Lululemon's Be Planet pillar, which focuses on making products that are "better in every way for people and the planet," according to a release.
Like many others in the apparel space, Lululemon is realizing that there's demand for a secondhand market of its clothing. The program not only allows Lululemon to save its clothing from becoming waste but also gives consumers another way to buy from the brand, as refurbishment and resale programs often come with a cheaper price tag.
Trade-in products for Lululemon's program will be cleaned and resold, and those that don't meet the brand's standards will be recycled through Debrand, a textile recycling and reverse logistics company. According to Lululemon, buying used apparel from the program can save up to 50% of a product's carbon footprint and 310 grams of waste.
Like Nike, which launched its refurbishment program in 15 stores to begin with, Lululemon is also starting small in just two markets. As the company pilots the program this year, it will rely on customer feedback to decide how to scale going forward.
"Lululemon is actively working to help create a healthier future, and 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," Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement.
The Earth Dye collection is another way the retailer is hoping to innovate sustainably. The dyes in the collection use less water, carbon and synthetic chemicals than conventional dyes. It comes after the launch of other sustainable material innovations, including solution-dyed nylon, recycled polyester and Forest Stewardship Council-certified rubber.
Lululemon is far from alone in trying to make its apparel more sustainable. In addition to its direct competitors, outdoors retailers have continued to innovate in the area, with REI earlier this month announcing it had doubled its online used gear sales. Sustainability has become something of an expectation from consumers, and resale programs have become an increasingly popular way to answer that demand.