Every year 85% of textiles produced end up in landfills. Clothing. Shoes. Gear. Wasted, without a second thought. To combat the problem, many outdoor brands, in part led by Patagonia, are looking to shift from a traditional, linear model to a circular model where people share, resell, repair, and recycle clothing to keep them out of landfills and in the value chain.
In a new pilot program that will last from June through September, The North Face launched an online store to sell refurbished gear. Called The North Face Renewed, the products are sourced from returns or defective items, cleaned and repaired to the quality of a new piece of clothing, and then sold online at a discount, as part of the company’s move toward a more circular business model.
“It just represents a really important next step in the evolution of our overall business,” says Tim Bantle, a general manager and vice president of lifestyle brands at The North Face. Even though the company makes products that are designed to last longer than average, it still had an opportunity to curb waste.
The North Face teamed up with The Renewal Workshop to refurbish all the gear. First, the gear is professionally cleaned and inspected. Then, it’s repaired to its original state — sometimes that means replacing a button or zipper or stitching up a tear from a rough ride. Lastly, it’s quality-checked to ensure it’s up to The North Face standards and then sent back into the world, ready for your next adventure.
During this pilot phase, products will come from The North Face’s internal stock, including products that might have been returned under the company’s guarantee. After the pilot, the company hopes to move to a long-term model for the new collection, possibly mirroring Patagonia’s Worn Wear program.
Browsing through the online store, you can get a Thermoball Jacket for $117 versus $199 at retail. You can also get a pair of Summit Series L5 Gore-Tex Pants for $305 versus $550 retail — that’s a pretty big savings. The Renewed gear is covered by a one-year warranty that protects against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship.