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Levi’s Wants to Buy Back and Resell Your Old Jeans

With Levi’s jeans among the most coveted pre-owned and vintage items worldwide, the heritage brand has a degree of circularity naturally built into its 167-year-old DNA. The brand, however, is taking a major step to extend the lifespan of its jeans.

On Tuesday, Levi’s will launch Levi’s SecondHand, its first buy-back program allowing customers to purchase secondhand jeans and jackets on while also giving customers the opportunity to turn in their worn jeans and jackets in Levi’s stores for a gift card towards a future purchase.

Levi’s has made the buy-back system simple. Sellers who bring their unwanted Levi’s denim to Levi’s stores will receive a $15-$25 credit for denim that can be resold and $30-$35 in credit for vintage denim. For Levi’s jeans that are too worn-out to be resold, the brand will offer the seller a $5 credit towards a future purchase and will proceed to recycle the garment.

All of these secondhand items will then be available on the Levi’s SecondHand marketplace microsite at affordable prices ranging from approximately $30-$100.

“Our belief is that you should love what you wear and live with it longer. Make sure you really love the things you buy. And what could be better than a perfectly worn-in pair of Levi’s,” said Jennifer Sey, Levi’s chief marketing officer.

As resale is a new venture for the denim giant, Levi’s is teaming with Trove to handle the backend operations of the Levi’s SecondHand resale platform including cleaning, inventory processing, and fulfillment. The re-commerce technology and logistics startup company provides similar support for Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, REI and more.

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“Getting more use out of existing products is the single biggest move we can make toward a more circular and sustainable supply chain,” said Andy Ruben, Trove founder and CEO.

The buy-back program is one of a series of initiatives Levi’s has recently launched to address the circularity of its products—old and new—and their impact on their environment.

In July, Levi’s launched its most sustainable jean yet developed in partnership with Swedish recycling textile technology startup Re:newcell. The jean is made with 60 percent organic cotton and Circulose, Re:newcell’s breakthrough material that includes 20 percent recycled denim and 20 percent sustainably sourced viscose.

While many brands have established take-back programs for textile recycling, encouraging consumers to recycle their old jeans remains an industry-wide challenge. Just 1 percent of the world’s textile waste is recycled into new garments, Levi’s stated. Therefore, a major part of the company’s circularity plan is centered on ways to keep jeans in rotation.

Along with the Levi’s Tailor Shop, which enables consumers to patch up and perfect the fit of their jeans for a nominal fee, the brand has the Levi’s Authorized Vintage collection, which offers unique and reworked vintage pieces in select locations.

The brand began to dabble in clothing rental this year as well. In August, Levi’s teamed with Scandinavian fashion label Ganni to introduced its first denim rental collection, a three-piece women’s capsule collection that includes garments made with upcycled vintage Levi’s and repurposed denim.

Levi’s SecondHand will be a continuation of this sustainable narrative. Buying a used pair of Levi’s through SecondHand, the company reports, saves approximately 80 percent of the CO2 emissions and 700 grams of waste compared to buying a new pair of Levi’s.

The denim giant introduces this week its first buy-back program to promote circularity. 
Levi’s SecondHand infographic Courtesy

To get their message to consumers, the brand developed a series of infographics that outline the resale process and the environmental and financial benefits of shopping used. According to one, global consumers miss out on $460 billion of value a year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear.

Levi’s has also tapped a roster of celebrities and influencers as Levi’s SecondHand partners. The list includes the stars of Levi’s Spring 2020 campaign Hailey Bieber and Jaden Smith, Jay-Z’s long-time stylist June Ambrose, model Lily Aldridge, 2019 Rivet 50 honoree and Denim Dudes contributor Sam Trotman, and more. To mark the launch on Oct. 6, Levi’s will host Instagram live conversations throughout the day with several of the notable partners.