The fervor for Nike sneakers was hugely instrumental in driving the phenomenon of sneaker reselling and collecting in the 1990s, but for decades, the athletic giant has had a policy to not acknowledge its presence in resale. That changed on Monday, with the brand announcing its first-ever in-house resale program, Nike Refurbished.
The program will see Nike taking back pre-owned sneakers from customers, inspecting and grading them for quality (like-new, gently worn or cosmetically flawed) and selling them at reduced prices. Nike is aiming to provide the program at 15 Nike stores throughout the U.S. by the end of the month and more by the end of the year.
Incentives can be a powerful way to gain interest in a circular program. Eileen Fisher offers a $5 credit for every piece sent in, which the brand’s director of Renew Cynthia Power said helped it bring in more than 19,000 pieces in March. Without an incentive, Nike customers with better quality product will no doubt turn to selling it via a platform like Grailed, which takes only a 9% cut of the resale price, rather than returning it to Nike.
Resale has become an increasingly important part of the global fashion world, and the pandemic helped boost resale sales grow 25 times faster in 2020 than in 2019. Other brands have taken an interest in hosting resale programs internally, as well, but almost always, those in-house resale programs are actually outsourced to a third-party company that handles the logistics. Trove which powers the resale program of Levi’s and Patagonia, for example. The reason, according to Trove CEO Andy Ruben, is that resale is an expensive model to run without investing in the infrastructure to handle thousands of individual SKUs.