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With Infinite Play, Adidas Gets in on the Circular Fashion Game

Score another one for Team Resale.

Adidas announced on Tuesday the launch of Adidas Infinite Play, a new service by the sportswear giant to “maximize the value” of Adidas gear by allowing customers to trade them in instead of throwing them away.

Infinite Play is the result of a partnership with Stuffstr, a London-via-Seattle social enterprise that helps retailers buy back used clothing and offers free pickups and shipping for participants. In exchange for their items, which will either be resold or recycled, customers receive an e-gift card (to be calculated from the total trade-in value of submissions) and 200 points toward Adidas’s Creators Club membership scheme.

“As a brand, we realize the challenges that the linear model has brought,” David Quass, director of business model innovation and brand partnerships on Adidas’s global brand strategy team, said in a statement. “When we talk about throwing things away, there is no ‘away’—stuff just ends up somewhere else. Our customers have an increased awareness of the impacts of their consumption and the challenges we face as a planet; and they’re asking how they can make a difference.”

A take-back and resale service like Infinite Play, which is currently available only in the United Kingdom, is one several circular business strategies brands can use to “create more value and profit, whilst reducing their environmental impact,” according to the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), which has been working with business consultancy QSA Partners and companies like Adidas, Farfetch and Ted Baker to pilot “bespoke” approaches to the circular economy, where resources are recaptured and recirculated rather than disposed.

Farfetch, the luxury marketplace, recently teamed up with secondhand retailer Thrift+ to encourage shoppers to clear out their closets for Farfetch credits or for charity; it also has a designer handbag trade-in program.

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Adidas Infinite Play is a new circular service that allows customers to trade in used Adidas goods instead of throwing them away.

With Britons dumping 350,000 metric tons of clothing—or roughly 140 million pounds ($180 million) worth—into landfills every year, such developments are “good for business and critical for the environment,” said James Close, head of LWARB’s Circular London program. “Take-back and resale services like Infinite Play help businesses to build customer loyalty while also mitigating some of the worst climate-change impacts of the textiles industry.”

Indeed, increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months, according to the nonprofit Waste Resources & Action Programme, would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of all U.K. clothing by 20 percent to 30 percent each.

“It’s a huge statement of intent from Adidas to show the world there are other, better ways of consuming clothes,” Kristina Bull, partner at QSA Partners, said. “The future is circular, and this announcement proves that we can build that future at scale with some of the biggest brands in the industry.”

The used-clothing market market may even someday surpass that of so-called “fast fashion,” according to intelligence firm GlobalData, which expects apparel resale to more than double in value from $24 billion today to $51 billion in 2023.

ThredUp, which commissions GlobalData to crunch numbers for its annual state-of-resale report, is just one of the companies seizing the zeitgeist.

The “world’s largest online consignment and thrift store” has inked deals to promote resale across the industry, from hallowed department stores such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney to millennial favorites like Reformation and Madewell. And earlier this month, The RealReal, the unicorn-IPO luxury resale firm, linked arms with Burberry to offer consignors of the British brand unique perks, including a British high-tea “experience.”