Having already made inroads in more sustainable design, Levi's is now launching a new buyback program. Under Levi's SecondHand, customers will be able to trade in their used apparel at Levi's stores in exchange for a gift card worth up to $25. If an item is good enough to be resold, Levi's will wash it and put it back up for sale on its dedicated store. If not, customers will still receive a $5 credit, and the item will be put up for recycling.
It's a similar model to Patagonia, which paved the way by launching Worn Wear in 2017. The North Face and Arc'teryx have since followed suit, providing customers with the chance to get choice outdoor gear at a discount as the companies do their part to minimize waste. All three retailers also make repairs to the used apparel when necessary, which differs from Levi's for now.
The discounts are great — Resell prices for the outdoor outfitters can still be expensive, but Levi's SecondHand store keeps its apparel relatively cheap. Most pieces are available for between $30 and $150, and there's a host of trucker jackets with plenty of life left in them for just $78. Of course, there's also a large selection of jeans. You should also look out for collector's items, like 1936 Type I lined jacket priced at $297.
By buying a pair of jeans through SecondHand, Levi's says customers can reduce the carbon emissions produced by 80 percent and avoid 700 grams of waste when compared to a new pair.
Levi's wants a piece of the pie — Given how many Levi's products are already on the market — just walk into any vintage store to confirm — it makes sense for the company to try to profit where it's previously been left out of.
"Young people in particular have a really high engagement with the secondhand market," Jennifer Sey, Levi's chief officer of marketing, told Women's Wear Daily. They are shopping secondhand at higher levels than any other generation. Something like 60 percent of Gen Z shops secondhand and I can speak from personal experience, that’s what my teenagers do."
In order to attract GenZ, Levi's has enlisted Hailey Bieber and Jaden Smith to create content using vintage denim.
What's new and sustainable — Through its WellThread collection, Levi's has also increased its output of more sustainable produced goods that are brand new. The brand released its most sustainable pair of jeans yet in July by partnering with Re:newcell on a process that uses 40 percent recycled materials.
Because denim is often made of a mixture of materials, it can be difficult to be recycled. Re:newcell has made a breakthrough by figuring out how to reduce textiles into a slurry mixture that's dried and spun into a new fabric. This could set the stage for more recycled denim in the market at large.