Nike is the latest sportswear brand — after On and adidas — to present its own take on the circular supply chain business model. Announced today, Nike Refurbished will take gently worn or slightly imperfect footwear and refurbish them by hand before selling them at a reduced price.
In its announcement, Nike explains that three types of shoes qualify for Refurbished: like new refers to shoes “worn for a day or two before being returned”; gently worn refers to shoes worn “slightly longer” than that (and presumably also returned within the legal, 60-day window); cosmetically flawed refers to sneakers that have slight manufacturing imperfections or factory flaws.
Returned shoes are inspected to see if they qualify for Nike Refurbished before they are cleaned and (according to Nike) “returned to as close to new condition as possible.” Each shoe is then given a condition grade and priced based on its condition.
Not all shoes qualify for Refurbished, as they may be too worn or have serious factory flaws that cannot be repaired. According to Nike, those shoes will either be donated (if the condition allows it) or recycled into Nike Grind, a composite material used in new Nike uppers and soles.
Nike Refurbished, like any brands’ sustainability measures, is not the final answer to the industry’s very real and very big sustainability problem. But what it does do, is make sure that returned, but wearable shoes that have already been produced don’t end up on a landfill (or wherever else returned shoes go). Nike Refurbished, if executed as planned, hopes to extend the lifetime of various products.
At the same time, Nike is ensuring it still manages to make money off of products that it otherwise would have presumably had to destroy, donate, or re-use somehow.
The program will launch in up to 15 U.S. stores first before Nike plans to scale the initiative. To find out more about Nike Refurbished, head here.
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