Lululemon will launch a trade-in and resale option for its gently used leggings, tops and jackets later this month following a successful pilot program fueled by rising consumer prices and a commitment to sustainable purchasing.
The rollout of Lululemon’s “Like New” program comes after the retailer tested its so-called re-commerce platform for customers in Texas and California, which launched last May.
Under Like New – powered by technology provider Trove – customers can exchange their previously worn Lululemon items for a gift card at one of the retailer’s US stores. They can also purchase from a selection of used items on a separate page on the retailer’s website. More items will be added every day.
According to Maureen Erickson, senior vice president of Global Guest Innovation at Lululemon, the push toward resale will help the premium brand in the sportswear sector attract customers seeking deals.
“The guy who buys from Like New is really…younger and is a value-based shopper,” Erickson said in a phone interview.
The nationwide debut is being unveiled as consumers see higher prices on everything from gas to milk to bread — and for some of their favorite subscription plans, including Amazon Prime. Lululemon said last month it planned to make selective price increases to cushion some of the pressures it faced, particularly in the supply chain.
If inflation continues, it could encourage more Americans to hunt for discounts and feel more comfortable buying second-hand clothes.
Shoppers have already become excited about the idea of buying used clothing and other items, analyst estimates show. In 2015, the resale market was approximately $1 billion, based on a Jefferies tracking. That market was estimated at $15 billion in 2021 and is expected to more than triple to $47 billion by 2025.
Erickson added that a number of third-party resale sites, including ThredUp and Poshmark, are already showing up with gently used Lululemon merchandise.
By launching its own resale platform in-house, Lululemon aims to pick up those sales and encourage repeat customers. And buying used merchandise from the original retailer, Erickson said, gives customers confidence in the quality and authenticity of the products.
“We were able to move [shoppers] to our ecosystem,” Erickson said. “What it allows us to do is stay vertical, which is the nature of our business … where we own the relationship with the guests.”
On Lululemon’s Like New website, ahead of the official launch date, a used women’s “All Yours” hoodie is listed for $49, lower than the new price of $108. A used pair of “Strides Ahead” high-rise women’s shorts costs $ 39, down from $68. And the popular ABC men’s slim-fit pants cost $65 to $75 on resale, down from $128.
The company said it will not include and resell certain items, such as bras and underwear.
And while the pre-owned merchandise will initially only be sold online, not in Lululemon’s stores, Erickson isn’t ruling out the possibility of a physical test of an in-store resale section.
Like New is also seen as an environmental commitment, with the retailer hoping to visit the country’s landfills for some of its merchandise. The company is working on several sustainability goals it set last fall, including making 100% of its products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.
“Every brand is trying to figure out, as it should, how we can all move towards a more sustainable future. That’s not going anywhere,” says Erickson. “And it’s a global priority for us.”
Younger shoppers are increasingly pursuing sustainable purchases, visiting thrift stores and reinventing garments to reduce consumption. To that end, big-box retailer Target last week confirmed a partnership with ThredUp to list used items for resale as part of its sustainability initiatives.
Lululemon is already seen as doing well by Generation Z consumers. The brand just moved up one spot on a list of the top 10 favorite teenage clothing brands, in Piper Sandler’s biennial “Taking Stock with Teens” survey.
In the same survey, which took place from Feb. 16 to March 22, 61% of teens, both women and men, reported buying second-hand clothes this spring, and 56% said they had recently sold their clothes in second-hand markets.
Andy Ruben, founder and CEO of Trove, calls this year a “turning point” for re-commerce.
“Getting more quality for less money has always been fashionable,” Ruben said in an interview. “And then these things like… [higher] gas prices and supply chain disruption…all of this is beneficial to the supply already in our cupboards – to get more use out of those items.”
Lululemon’s re-commerce site launches on Earth Day, April 22.