Instead of owning a pair of jeans for life, fashionistas can now keep them for a year before sending them back to be recycled and receiving something fresh and new in exchange. While most companies typically use a leasing model for durable goods – such as heavy machinery or automobiles – Dutch entrepreneur Bert van Son thinks that leasing can work well for other products, too – like jeans.
Van Son owns a small line called Mud Jeans. Mud Jeans is an eco-friendly, all natural jean which can be found online. As part of the Mud Jeans package, Van Son launched a new service which allows people to rent – not buy – his jeans. He figured that while he may not make much money up front, this allows him to gather valuable fabric after use, and potentially cement loyalty with his customers.
This collaborative process allows folks to stay the owner of jeans and also allow other people to use them. Van Son remarked that, “We thought it must be possible to get our jeans back somehow, and reuse them in the recycle process. So, we thought, ‘Why not stay the owner of the jeans and let people use the jeans, rather than owning them?’”
Van Son’s customers pay a one-time 20 euro fee (approx.. $27), which covers shipping and admin. Then, there is a 5 euro per month for one year (80 euros in total). At the end of the contracted time, people have three options:
1) Send the jeans back
2) Get a new pair, paying the re-shipping cost and the lease fee
3) Keep the jeans, paying another 4 months at 5 euros plus a further 20 euro deposit – which goes toward another pair when they eventually need one.
Van Son launched the concept product in January at a jazz club in Amsterdam where several hundred people signed up. The jeans are made of a high-end organic cotton from Turkey, which is “quite expensive” and hard to source. So, it makes sense to increase the proportion of recycled, or off-cut, material. At the moment, that’s about about 40%. But Van Son thinks he could get it to about 50%, if he gets the leasing scheme right (it’s not possible to go fully recycled, as long, virgin, strands are needed initially).
When the jeans come back from the user, they are either washed, repaired, and put back into service, or shredded and sent back to the factory. “Cotton is a very big pollutant in our world. Even organic cotton uses a lot of water. So, if there is a way of helping, it’s good,” Van Son says.
Why not get your own pair of these eco-friendly fancy pants?