Levi Strauss & Co is launching what it claims is the first-of-its-kind buy-back programme for a global denim brand, enabling customers to purchase second-hand jeans and jackets on its website and turn in worn apparel at Levi’s stores in exchange for a gift card towards a future purchase.

Set to launch in the US today (6 October), SecondHand is part of the denim giant ‘s larger commitment to making fashion sustainable and circular. Its stores will offer US$15-$25 for denim that can be resold and $30-$35 for vintage denim. For denim that is too worn, it will offer $5 towards a future purchase.

All of the items will then be available on its SecondHand marketplace priced between $30-$100.

The brand said it hoped the move would inspire more denim labels to introduce a similar offering.

“Repurposing and repairing clothes requires minimal additional energy input, no water, and no dyes to make more jeans. Buying a used pair of Levi’s jeans through SecondHand saves approximately 80% of the CO2 emissions and 700 grams of waste compared to buying a new pair of Levi’s jeans,” says Jennifer Sey, Levi’s chief marketing officer.

Levi Strauss says getting consumers to look at second-hand, or vintage, with a new lens is essential because the fashion industry is continuing to produce an unprecedented number of garments every year. And recycling rates are still low: approximately less than 1% of the world’s textile waste is recycled into new garments.

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“While we are excited to partner with emerging technologies to recycle more of our denim in the manufacturing process, such as the recent Wellthread Recycled Denim collection launched in partnership with re:newcell, we are also looking to give previously loved Levi’s jeans and jackets a second life,” it says. 

The company has partnered with recommerce technology and logistics start-up company Trove to handle the backend operations of its SecondHand resale platform including cleaning, inventory processing, and fulfillment.

“Getting more use out of existing products is the single biggest move we can make toward a more circular and sustainable supply chain,” says Andy Ruben, founder and CEO of Trove.