Beginning Earth Day, April 22, Lululemon Like New, the Canadian firm’s first trade-in and resale program, will be available to customers nationwide. All profits from the scheme, which it operates in partnership with Trove, will go to supporting the goals outlined in Lululemon’s so-called Impact Agenda, including manufacturing 100 percent of its products with sustainable raw materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.
“At Lululemon, we’re deeply committed to creating quality products built to last and that are better for people and the planet,” Celeste Burgoyne, president, Americas and global guest innovation, said in a statement. “Bringing Luluemon Like New to all U.S. guests is a major step toward a circular eco-system and achieving our Impact Agenda goals to reduce our environmental footprint.”
Lululemon, which is gaining traction with teens and young adults, trialed Like New last May at more than 80 participating stores in California and Texas, with the majority of inventory categorized as “good as new.” Because the positive response was overwhelming, expansion was a “natural next step” for allowing customers to “purchase products with a purpose,” Burgoyne said.
“We’ve seen incredible momentum from our pilot program and we look forward to welcoming new guests nationwide,” she said, adding that the quality of Lululemon’s products allows for second and third life cycles. Through the program, customers can trade in pre-owned Lululemon togs for an e-gift card that they can apply at one of nearly 400 participating U.S. stores. The secondhand items are available online at likenew.lululemon.com and include a “robust assortment” of pants, tops, shorts and jackets.
Lululemon’s Impact Agenda, the retailer said, is a multiyear strategy to create an “equitable, sustainable future,” with a “central vision” to minimize its environmental impact and generate long-term value, contributing to a “healthier world.”
But the new footwear entrant has also attracted criticism from environmental campaigners who say Lululemon isn’t doing enough to wean its supply chain from fossil fuels. Stand.earth, which like Lululemon hails from Vancouver, has been an especially vocal opponent. In its most recent Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard, published in August, the think tank gave Lululemon a grade of D-, lower than the C average that other sportswear makers like Nike, Adidas and Puma received, for “taking no meaningful action to get rid of coal and deploy renewable energy in its manufacturing.”
“Expanding resale programs that aim to extend the life cycle of apparel may play a part in the solution to reduce textile waste, but ultimately brands like Lululemon need to commit to and implement strategies that would eliminate fossil fuels from their manufacturing and materials,” Muhannad Malas, senior climate campaigner with the Fossil-Free Fashion campaign at Stand.earth, told Sourcing Journal.
“In contrast to its purported commitment to sustainability, Lululemon continues to drag its feet on phasing out coal as a source of energy from its supply chain, which adds to its growing climate pollution and adverse health impacts on communities including in Southeast Asia and China where its products are made,” he added.
Malas said that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes it “abundantly clear” that businesses like Lululemon can no longer delay transitioning to renewable energy if “we are to have a solid chance to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change.”
Lululemon should also take a harder look at its addiction to synthetic materials, which are derived from petrochemicals, he said. The athleisure fave recently invested in Genomatica, a San Diego-based biotechnology company that makes plant-based nylon. It has also pledged to source at least 75 percent of its polyester from recycled content by 2025, though some detractors have called the use of plastic-bottle castoffs for clothing a “false solution.”
“If it’s serious about sustainability, Lululemon must also take steps to phase out its reliance on fossil-fuel synthetics like polyester, a material that not only perpetuates the world’s reliance on fossil fuels, environmental injustice and microplastic pollution, but also undermines efforts to achieve circularity due to the lack of viable and scaled solutions to recycle it,” Malas said.