• Alice Bodkin

The Death of Ownership? Meet On - Where Running Shoes Get a Rent the Runway Upgrade

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Image Source: @on_running via Instagram

Sustainability has been both strong in sentiment and message throughout September. In a bid to encourage consumers to pursue conscious and environmental friendly, consumerism, the month even has been dubbed ‘second-hand September’. At the same time, zero waste week took place between the 7th and the 14th.

However, the sustainable initiative that caught our eye is when running shoes get a ‘Rent the Runway’ upgrade. Meet Swiss running brand On, who launched recyclable running shoes via subscription. Entitled ‘the Cyclon’, the shoes are made from castor beans and consumers can enjoy them solely via a monthly subscription services. Only available in white, in order to avoid the use of chemicals when dying a product, they will be available for just $29.99 a month. For this price, runners can receive shoes and send them back to receive new ones, as many likes as they like. For avid runners who like to check on their milage, this is good news.

Promoted as ‘the shoes you will never own’, On’s marketing embraces anti-consumerist tactics. At Nulune, we have been exploring the rise of anti-consumerism, a world whereby, ironically, consumers no longer consume to own a product indefinitely per se. Instead consumption becomes an exchange of services between brands and consumers.

However, whilst On will be issuing subscription memberships to their consumers, the company will be relying on enough people from different markets to subscribe to the service to ensure the delivery to each sons is environmentally feasible. For each customer zone, they will targeting at least 5,000 subscribers. It’s a smart move, because it would not make logistical sense to promote a sustainable running shoe offering that compromises on increasing carbon footprint.

With a strong focus on locality, shoes will be sent to regional recycling hubs so they can be shredded and reverted back to their original material. The company plans to use to to remake their new line of Cylcons.

Whilst the brand will not launch until Autumn 2021, the company is working hard to create community surrounding the brand and a decent subscriber base in order to generate a 200,000 initial rollout.

The brand is innovative for many reasons, including a focus on community and overall build prior to launch next year. Particularly due to COVID19 induced lockdown, we are seeing greater investment and connection into local communities, as well as disruption when it comes to supply chains, moving from globalisation to regionalisation. At the same time, they have embraced a circular economy mindset, whereby they have considered the exit strategy for the product materials. Using an anti-consumerist strategy, they are supporting degrowth by shiftings away from product ownership, to renting and recycling. Finally, they ensured that efforts to engage in a circular economy have not been offset by carbon footprint, playing closer attention to the increasing importance of locality when it comes to brand engagement and communication.

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