On Holding AG, which owns the running-shoe brand On that tennis star Roger Federer backs, has launched a resale site. That makes On the latest company to enter the fast-growing apparel resale market.
Federer today announced his retirement from tennis.
On, which went public last year and expects to see net sales of 1.1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) in 2022, has made sustainability a focus in its business. It set science-based climate targets, per its 2021 environmental impact report, aiming to cut emissions it directly generates 46% by 2030. The Roger Federer-backed brand also aims 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.
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. It’s also a major source of plastic pollution. By extending the life of products through resale or rentals, customers and businesses keep them out of landfills for longer and stave off future emissions associated with developing new goods.
How Roger Federer’s brand On does resales
Here’s how Onward works: Customers can send their lightly or moderately used On shoes back to the company in return for a $35 gift card. They can use that gift card to spend on new or used items, assuming the shoes are high enough quality to use again without causing 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. 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. The company plans to start selling used items of On-branded clothing on the resale site by year’s end.
To help run the site, On is teaming up with the ecommerce technology company Trove. It 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 CEO Gayle Tait. So far, Trove estimates that it has helped avoid emissions of over 2 million kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. It also estimates it has kept more than 200,000 kilograms of waste out of landfills globally.
Old shoes, new customers
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.”
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