Sep 04, 2021
by Sidney Pacampara
The New Balance Renewed Circular Program Gives Second Life To Returned and Imperfect Apparel
by Sidney Pacampara
Sep 04, 2021

New Balance has partnered with leading apparel and textile circular solutions provider The Renewal Workshop for “New Balance Renewed,” a circular program that produces a collection of repaired and restored pieces from the Boston-based sportswear company.

The new partnership aims to extend the life of “imperfect and returned items” as a means to deter the garments from ending up in landfills. According to the EPA, about nine million tons of apparel and footwear waste reached U.S. landfills in 2018 – a number that continues to rise unless significant change occurs in consumer habits and new models are introduced at the brand level.

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The New Balance Renewed program begins with The Renewal Workshop’s (TRW) proprietary “six-stage, zero-waste process.” After the Oregon-based company receives the lightly used, flawed, and/or returned items from New Balance, TRW sorts, grades, thoroughly cleans, repairs, inspects, and verifies the garments to joint quality standards between both companies. The pieces are then given a Renewal Workshop certification and become available for sale through TRW’s website. A full range of performance and sportswear items are currently available for men and women at a portion of their original retail price. This includes full running gear, various jackets and hoodies, workout attire, tennis pieces, and even items for baseball players.

“To bring on an iconic brand like New Balance is a part of The Renewal Workshop’s partnership expansion plan,” says TRW Co-Founder Nicole Bassett in a press release. “We look forward to seeing New Balance Renewed become a driver of renewing products and to helping New Balance launch re-commerce in the athleticwear sector.” 

New Balance has, as the brand puts it, a “holistic approach to climate change.” Under it’s We Got Now ethos, the brand strives to make immediate changes for the betterment of our near future through increasing the reliance on renewable energy, prioritizing low climate impact materials, engaging in climate advocacy, and supporting more circular business model like post-consumer recycling and repair programs such as TRW’s.

“Together with The Renewal Workshop, we’re keeping apparel in use for longer and learning how to intentionally design for repairability from the start.”

New Balance Director of Global Sustainability, John Stokes

New Balance prides itself for having “quality” at the core of its heritage. “New Balance is constantly learning and evolving our approach to create quality, long lasting design,” said New Balance Director of Global Sustainability John Stokes. “Together with The Renewal Workshop, we’re keeping apparel in use for longer and learning how to intentionally design for repairability from the start.”

The “renew” process is one that’s not completely unique to New Balance; this type of refurbishing program adopted by a number of brands for similar goals: extending the life of used or discarded product all while adding another cycle of economy to the items. It’s a necessary concept to consider as a brand if the standard is to traditionally end the products’ cycle at the landfill after its first run with the consumer. Other brands who have introduced similar circular initiatives include Nike, Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, and A.P.C.

TRW, which has factories in Oregon and Amsterdam, is here to support brands like New Balance who may not have the infrastructure and processes set up to provide a refurbished offering to customers. “The Renewal System is the process we developed to bridge gaps, connect systems, and mobilize leadership to make existing linear manufacturing practices circular,” TRW states on its website. “At its heart, it is a collaborative process that relies on progressive brand partners committed to sustainability.”

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The solution TRW provides to brands, such as New Balance as well as Champion, Carhartt and prAna, is a data-backed system that fully tracks and helps recover the value of inventory that’s seen as unsellable. “For products that have been produced but cannot be sold, the creative, physical, natural and financial resources invested in them are lost,” says TRW. “This leads to massive waste problems with negative environmental impacts, significant financial losses for brands and missed opportunities for consumers.”

Along with providing a system for New Balance to offer renewed products, TRW’s partnership also provides key design information to the brand. “In April 2021, TRW led a workshop during New Balance’s Design Week to help educate designers how to intentionally design future apparel for repairability and garment recycling,” said Stokes. It’s not about relying on TRW to do the work once product reaches the point to be renewed, it’s about evolving to design with intention for the future.

The New Balance Renewed collection is available now via The Renewal Workshop website.

In other circularity news, check out these upcycled parachute bucket hats made my Greg Laboratory.