Earlier this month, American footwear brand New Balance announced the launch of its new resale program, Reconsidered. Consumers can now view and shop for pre-owned shoes through the brand’s website. Items include consumer returns and cosmetically imperfect footwear that cannot be sold as new but have been cleaned as needed. An in-store trade-in program is being piloted at eight New Balance retail locations before scaling into more US stores later this year. The program also
m also allows customers to trade in their gently worn New Balance shoes via mail or in-store drop-off and receive a voucher on eligible trade-ins to use toward their next New Balance purchase online. The voucher’s value will be based on the seasonality and condition of the product traded in. The technology to facilitate New Balance’s Reconsidered experience and the fulfillment of these products is provided by Archive, a technology platform for branded resale. Product cleaning, fulfillment, and warehousing are provided by Tersus Solutions, which operates an innovative waterless cleaning technology alongside a suite of textile reclamation solutions for apparel and footwear. On the partnership, Emily Gittins, CEO and co-founder of Archive, commented, “Reconsidered was designed to give customers an easy, accessible way to keep New Balance shoes in circulation, as well as to provide consumers with a better buying experience for pre-loved shoes at an accessible price point. We’re proud to partner with New Balance to launch a full-service re-commerce program that keeps shoes out of landfills, attracts new customers, and builds on existing customer loyalty.” John Stokes, director of sustainability at New Balance, stated, “We know the footwear industry has a significant environmental impact, including too many products ending up in a landfill. There are many things that have to shift. Launching Reconsidered is one piece of the puzzle with a program objective to help extend product life for some of our products and get the most from what is already made.” In addition to its heightened focus on the longevity and circularity of products, New Balance has additional goals when it comes to sustainability. The brand is committed to switching to 100 per cent renewable electricity for owned operations by 2025, continuing to source lower-impact materials, transitioning to lower carbon transportation, and engaging with governments to help enact better climate policy. These goals are aligned with the Science Based Targets Initiative, a collaboration between Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and hte World Wide Fund for Nature. Sneakers and sustainability In sneaker culture, resale is hardly a new phenomenon. Retailers including StockX, Stadium Goods, and many more have built their business models and revenue streams upon the popularity of trading and selling “hot” sneaker models, an ever-growing market. According to market research and consultancy firm Market Decipher, the global sneakers resale market was estimated to be worth US$11.5 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach revenue of US$53.2 billion by 2033, growing at a CAGR of 16.4 per cent during the forecast period of 2023 to 2033. However, with a growing focus on vintage fashion and brands establishing “green” supply chain cycles, now more than ever there is heightened interest in authentic sustainability within the retail industry, especially concerning clothing and similar goods. New Balance is just the latest fashion brand to hop onto the resale trend. Coach has done something similar with the launch of Coachtopia, its circular fashion initiative, last year. While selling and using worn items is one way for retailers and consumers to make their consumption practices more sustainable, the larger problem is overproduction. According to sustainability consultancy company Quantis, sneaker production is highly carbon intensive, accounting for 1.4 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. A 2013 study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a typical pair of running shoes generates approximately 13.6 kilograms of CO2 emissions, the bulk of which come from manufacturing. To truly reduce their environmental impact, brands will need to invest greater funding and efforts into building cleaner supply chain and manufacturing processes, resourcing and using recyclable and vegan materials, and helping educate the consumer about ethical consumption practices.