The North Face Renewed: VF Corporation takes next step into ‘new world’ of servitisation

EXCLUSIVE: The North Face's recent launch of a refurbished garments service is acknowledgement of a "new world" of corporate business models that will see the brand's owner, VF Corporation, trial a number of closed-loop, service-based models.

The North Face, owned by VF Corporation alongside other flagship brands including Timberland and Vans, launched its “Renewed” programme earlier this month. Renewed acts as an online hub for the brand to sell refurbished products that are sourced from returned, damaged or defective apparel.

According to VF Corporation’s sustainability and senior director Anna Maria Rugarli, The North Face Renewed is a prime example of how circular business offerings can be used to attract new customers while championing the importance of sustainability.

“It’s a new world, in terms of expanding our business, and [the launch] allows us to reach out to new consumers that aren’t necessarily interested in purchases,” Rugarli told edie. “We can do this while championing the durability of our products as one of the key sustainability aspects of our offer.

“This is a great example for us to show our circular credentials. The idea of new business models is to add value to our products and the way we engage with our consumers. It’s another lens to view consumer interaction through.”

The North Face Renewed is currently only available online, but already covers items such as the Denali Jacket – made from 100% recycled polyester – Cali Wool Beanies made using “Climate Beneficial Wool” and t-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles.

The platform acts as a pilot to push VF Corporation towards its wider circular economy goals, including 50% of nylon and polyester coming from recycled materials by 2025 and reducing the environmental impact of key materials by 35%.

Both The North Face and Timberland have already tested consumer demand for new services and circular models. Both brands have rolled out take-back schemes across European stores to generate a supply of reusable materials. To date, the programmes have collected around 6,500kg of clothing that would otherwise be sent to landfill, or remain unwanted and unused.

Future loops

VF Corporation are working with the Renewal Workshop to ensure that all products hosted on the platform are suitable for purpose. Notably, the Workshop already has ties to other VF Corporation brands, including the recently acquired Icebreaker.

While Rugarli wouldn’t disclose how the long the trials would last, she did hint that further closed-loop initiatives could be trialled across other brands.

“The great effort so far has been to build and launch this,” Rugarli added. “Now, we want to see what kind of response we get.

“We’re working on other pilots, in other areas, with other brands. At the moment these are work in progress but you’ll see some circular concepts in the next few months. But at its core we’re testing circular business models to see if they’re successful.”

Last May, the company signed the 2020 Circular Fashion Commitment, pledging to increase the quantity of second hand garments and footwear collected by Timberland and The North Face shops in Europe by 10%.

While this commitment is aimed at educating consumers about product end-of-life, the company is also targeting 100% of its European product designers to be trained on circular economy principles by 2020.

On a wider scope, VF Corporation has committed to a science-based target for carbon reduction by 2019 and a transition to 100% renewables by 2025.

The Circular economy at edie’s Sustainable Supply Chains Conference 

Moving towards sustainable sourcing through a circular economy is one of the key topics being covered during edie’s Sustainable Supply Chains Conference next week.

Taking place on Wednesday 27th June at the 99 City Road Conference Centre in London, the Sustainable Supply Chains Conference will bring together sustainability, supply chain and procurement professionals to explore how companies can improve supplier engagement to drive sustainability. 

The event will include an interactive breakout session focused on ‘Moving towards a circular model’.

Find out more about the Conference and register to attend here

Matt Mace

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