As part of its latest sustainability initiative, Nike is soon going to let its consumers buy refurbished sneakers. The brand, which accepts worn or unworn returns throughout a 60-day post-purchase window, plans to take its returned sneakers and either restore them for resale or recycle the shoes into Nike Grind materials, depending on the footwear’s condition. Prices will be lower, along with Nike’s carbon footprint — but the move also sees the Swoosh closing in on the resale market, challenging popular sites like StockX and GOAT.
Nike’s recent lawsuit with MSCHF saw the sportswear brand shut down the other’s unofficial Air Max 97 “Satan Shoes,” which had been customized with sinister details and real human blood. While the Swoosh took legal action to protect its reputation, there’s no denying Nike was angry someone else was profiting off its hype, and the lawsuit could change the reselling and customization market for good. This refurbishing operation — while good for the environment and consumers — may affect the sneaker market similarly as Nike monopolizes its Swoosh.
Of course, not all hypebeasts will turn to the company for its refurbished sneakers, and sites like StockX will continue to profit off hyped Nike shoes. It should be noted, though, that the brand has figured out a way to make even more money without spending any — ensuring it still manages to make a profit off of products that it otherwise would have presumably had to destroy, donate, or re-use somehow. Sustainability definitely isn’t the key factor behind this operation.
How it works — That being said, the circularity program, dubbed Nike Refurbished, will give sneakers a second life and make some models more accessible to consumers. If returned shoes are in good enough condition to be resold — and not recycled into Nike Grind materials — the brand will tag the pair with one of three classifications: like new, gently worn, or cosmetically flawed.
Each silhouette is inspected and refurbished by hand, and then given one of the three condition grades. Messaging on the boxes lets consumers know what kind of shoes are inside, their condition, and pricing.
And while sneakerheads might be wary of buying used sneakers, all Nike Refurbished footwear is covered by Nike’s 60-day wear test, just like any other Nike sneaker. Even if the shoes were discounted or worn at purchase, the brand will accept their return, ensuring the program is risk-free.
Renovated yet restricted — The refurbishing program has only been confirmed in 15 Nike retail locations so far, but the brand plans to expand the operation throughout 2021. You can view participating stores on Nike’s website, which will hopefully also partake in distributing the Refurbished footwear in the future. After all, the goal of the program is to make sustainability affordable and accessible for consumers — not just to make the company look good.