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Roger Federer Backed Shoe Brand Launches Resale Site in Sustainability Push

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Roger Federer Backed Shoe Brand Launches Resale Site in Sustainability Push

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On will resell used shoes on the new site, called Onward, and plans to add clothing by the end of the year

The Swiss athletic brand On is launching a resale site Thursday, making it the latest company to enter the fast-growing apparel resale market. 

On Holding AG, which is backed by tennis star Roger Federer, went public last year and expects to see net sales of 1.1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) in 2022. The company has made sustainability a focus of its business. It set science-based climate targets, per its 2021 environmental impact report, aiming to cut emissions it directly generates 46% by 2030 and to reduce indirect emissions arising from the company’s supply chain and product use. On also strives to be fully circular, meaning it would someday only use recycled materials to make its products and would generate little waste in their manufacture, distribution and use. 

“It will obviously take us years to be fully circular,” said Samuel Wenger, On’s global direct-to-consumer head. The new resale site, Onward, “is a perfect in-between step,” Wenger said.  

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The “Roger” collection, named after tennis champion Roger Federer, for sale at the On NYC flagship store in July 2021. Photographer: Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg

The fashion industry has a gigantic climate and waste problem. Between 2% and 8% of global carbon emissions come from big fashion, according to the United Nations, and it’s also a major source of plastic pollution. By extending the life of products, whether through resale or rentals, customers and businesses are keeping them out of landfills for longer and staving off future emissions associated with developing new goods. 

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Here’s how Onward will work: Customers can send their lightly or moderately used On shoes back to the company in return for a $35 gift card to spend on new or used items, assuming the shoes are of high enough quality to be used again and not cause injury. (Shoes that don’t meet this bar will be donated or recycled.) The returned items will then be sorted into three categories depending on quality — near-perfect, very good and good — and priced accordingly. 

Newer, in-season and better-quality products will be priced higher than lower-quality, off-season ones, and all products will be less expensive than brand-new ones. A newer product of near-perfect quality will cost roughly 75% of the original price, according to Wenger. In addition to shoes, the company plans to start selling used items of On-branded clothing on the resale site by year’s end. 

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Clothing and accessories on display at the On NYC flagship store. Photographer: Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg

To help run the site, On is teaming up with the e-commerce technology company Trove, which manages similar sites for other big-name clothing and outdoor brands, such as Patagonia, REI and Lululemon. All of these companies see resale as an essential part of their sustainability ambitions, said Trove’s chief executive officer, Gayle Tait. So far, Trove estimates that it has helped avoid emissions of  over 2 million kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent and kept more than 200,000 kilograms of waste out of landfills globally.

Offering products on resale is also a way to reach new customers. At least 50% of Trove’s “recommerce” customers reported being new to a brand, according to Tait. 

This is part of a larger trend of customers turning to secondhand items and marketplaces. Compared to two years ago, US consumers of all ages have reported buying second-hand at least 33% more often, according to a December 2021 report by First Insight, Inc. and the Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

For customers, choosing to engage in resale marketplaces is “an active choice you can make to really reduce your waste,” said Trove’s Tait. “We’ve all got closets full of stuff we wear or don’t wear, frankly, and it’s really about finding the right homes for those items and getting them to the next person.”

Source: Bloomberg

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