April 20, 2021 at 04:08PM

Six months after the rollout of its sweeping corporate sustainability agenda, the yoga and athletic apparel retailer lululemon has unveiled its first-ever venture to resell gently used clothes. In announcing its “Like New” reCommerce initiative, 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.

At the same time, the retailer 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 CEO Calvin McDonald, reiterating the company’s goals set last summer to make 100 percent of its products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.

Pilots in Texas and California

According to the Vancouver-based company, which did $4.4 billion in sales last year through its website and 520 retail locations, the trade-in portion of the program will debut next month as a pilot in 80 California and Texas locations before expanding into a resale program in June.

In keeping with the program’s name, lululemon said that trade-ins need to be in “like-new condition,” and will be processed and inspected via a new partnership with reCommerce specialty firm Trove. If merchandise is accepted for resale, customers will be given a lululemon gift card in exchange for their items. While the company made no mention of what it intends to pay for used gear or at what level of discount it plans to resell them, it did say that 100 percent of the program’s profits would be reinvested into additional sustainability initiatives.

For items that don’t make the quality cut, lululemon will recycle them through a longstanding partnership with Canadian reverse logistics firm Debrand.

According to the company, lululemon’s upcoming muted and earth-toned line of organically colored clothing will be available globally online and in stores on May 11. The launch is part of its multi-year mission to develop products made with sustainable materials that also consider end-of-use solutions.

The Athleisure Trend

To be sure, lululemon has benefited from the COVID era’s increased consumer demand for athletic apparel and home workouts, and its new sustainably sourced offerings are clearly aimed at discerning consumers who make healthy lifestyle choices, including where they shop. The move also comes at a time when Lulu is striving to grow its digital and direct-to-consumer businesses, which accounted for over half its sales in 2020.

“People will always want to sweat and stay active, and our focus on innovative performance fabrics will continue to deliver unique solutions,” McDonald told analysts and investors on the company’s earnings call in March, predicting that demand for technical athletic apparel would remain relevant and strong even after the pandemic subsides.

As much as the company has projected that its sales will grow at least 25 percent and top $5.5 billion this year, lululemon has been having a harder time getting investors excited recently, as its stock has fallen nearly 15 percent from mid-December, leaving it with a market value of $43 billion, or roughly 10 times last year’s revenue.

lululemon Joins Secondhand Clothing Trend With ‘Like New’ reCommerce Unit …

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