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Fashion, Gear, & Beauty

I Tried Lululemon’s Like New Program, And These Are My Honest Thoughts

Does the activewear brand's new sustainability initiative live up to the hype?

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The most dominant brand in my closet is unequivocally Lululemon. From leggings and jackets to sports bras and tank tops, the Lulu symbol is hard to miss amidst the clutter of clothes in my wardrobe. But, to be honest, there are only few pieces from the brand that I now wear regularly.

As a Lululemon fan since my middle and high school years—yes, hello iconic headbands and Wunder Under Leggings—I have a whole pile of the brand’s garments sitting in the back of my closet, gathering dust. I was reluctant to donate them, hung up on giving away my expensive leggings, until I heard about Lululemon Like New.

What is Lululemon Like New?

The Like New initiative started as a pilot program in some of the brand’s Texas and California stores last year. After the success of the pilot program, Lululemon expanded the program to all U.S. stores on April 22, to coincide with Earth Day. The program allows customers to exchange their gently-worn Lululemon apparel for gift cards. The preowned apparel is then resold, at a discounted price, on the Like New site.

There are some important caveats to this program. Since the items are resold, Lululemon can’t accept items that are damaged. Additionally, accessories, yoga props, and swimsuits, among other items, aren’t eligible for trade-in. If a Lululemon store associate decides an item isn’t eligible for trade-in, you can opt to bring the item home or recycle it through Lululemon’s partner, Debrand.

How does Lululemon Like New support sustainable initiatives?

In addition to promoting sustainable shopping, Lululemon pledges to donate 100 percent of profits or 2 percent of revenue from Like New (whichever is higher) to its social and environmental initiatives. Some of these initiatives include making 75 percent of products with sustainable materials by 2025—and expanding that to 100 percent of products by 2030.

How does the program work?

Excited to clear out some space in my closet—and perhaps get some money to spend on new Lulu items—I decided to try this program out myself. After examining and mulling over my Lululemon collection, I selected two pairs of leggings that rarely make the cut when I’m getting ready for yoga class: a red tie-dye pair (I know, I know) and a pair of black cropped Wunder Under leggings. I loaded them into my reusable tote bag (because, sustainability) and headed off to my nearest Lululemon store.

I’ll admit it—I wasn’t sure if my black crops would make the cut. There was a bit of piling on them and due to wear over time, the logo had faded. Nevertheless, I decided it was worth a shot. When I arrived at the store, I headed to the counter, where the associate asked me to input my email address, in order to receive my e-gift card. He lightly inspected my leggings (taking no more than 20 seconds), and then asked me to confirm my information. My not-so-beloved leggings were now in Like New’s hands. Approximately a minute after confirming the donation, I received my e-gift card from Lululemon. Since I donated two pairs of leggings, I received $20 in store credit (cha-ching).

Overall thoughts on Lululemon Like New

The process was easy and seamless. While I likely would have donated these leggings anyway in my next closet purge, I have to admit the monetary promise of Like New definitely spurred me into action. (Plus, the sustainability factor was a major bonus.) Moving forward, I plan to peruse the Like New site for my favorite Lululemon products before buying new Lululemon gear.

Speaking of the Like New site—that’s where I see one major drawback to this program. The e-gfit cards you receive through this program can only be used on new items in store or online. They can’t be used to purchase gently used items on the Like New site. To me, this restriction detracts from the overall sustainability goals of the program. Instead of creating a 360-degree sustainability initiative, the brand wants you to buy new products—potentially generating more unused clothing that will end up needing to be recycled.

I’m still planning to pick through my Lululemon collection every few months to see if there’s anything donation-worthy. And I know I’ll purchase new Lululemon products from time to time (especially now that I have a gift card to use). However, I plan to shop more frequently on the Like New site to help save the planet—and my money. I guess that’s one way to (sort of) cure my activewear shopping addiction.