The North Face on Wednesday launched the pilot of "The North Face Renewed," a collection of refurbished products sold online only to "consumers who want to access affordable gear and reduce their environmental impact."
All items are sourced from returned, defective or damaged apparel, including items from its popular Summit Series, iconic Denali jackets and other collections, and have been inspected, cleaned and refurbished to The North Face quality and performance standards, according to a company press release.
The North Face Renewed is an evolution of a traditional, linear business model into a circular model where clothing can be resold, repaired and recycled to keep it out of landfills. Every year 85% of textiles produced ultimately end up there, the company said.
Retailers like The North Face, REI and Patagonia attract outdoorsy types who spend plenty of money on their apparel and gear, but are also more environmentally conscious than most.
That outlook helped make REI’s anti-Black Friday #OptOutside campaign, where customers and employees were encouraged to literally take a hike rather than shop, a huge success. That retailer also saw sales surge during its own blockbuster sales event, which takes place in May.
But rugged activity takes a toll on that gear. The North Face’s new experiment follows Patagonia’s longtime effort to make it easy to repair its apparel rather than toss it, and to recycle it if it’s too far gone for that.
"As we address the impacts of our products over their entire lifecycle, recommerce is an important next step in opening new markets and minimizing our impact on the planet," The North Face Director of Sustainability James Rogers said in a statement. "We are furthering our sustainability goals without sacrificing durability or technical standards. Ultimately, as we work to scale Renewed, we will be proving a larger, circular model for the industry."
While many U.S. full-price apparel retailers (particularly department stores) are experiencing soft consumer demand, the "recommerce sector" is thriving, and online resale in particular is one of the fastest-growing sectors in retail, according to a report last year from Coresight Research. The total U.S. apparel resale market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13% from $18 billion in 2016 to $33 billion in 2021, according to that report.