The Comeback of Lululemon


It was during the earliest developments of athleisure when Lululemon Athletica saw record-breaking success, becoming the top brand that checked off the fashion and function requirements the trend demands. Sales were at an all-time high a few years back, but with the executive-level restructuring, complaints about black leggings being too sheer, and the company’s founder suggesting that some women’s bodies weren’t suited for Lululemon apparel, The Financial Post reports that it’s been a tough two years for the workout gear label.

In addition to the chaos within the company, Lululemon also had to contend with other retailers that wanted a slice of the athleisure profits. Lyst showcases a myriad of brands with leggings, from athletic shoe suppliers like New Balance to denim labels like Joe’s Jeans, which have all done relatively well in the market recently. While budget conscious shoppers directed their attention towards the yoga pants from Forever21 and H&M, making it all the more difficult for Lululemon to survive in the market while maintaining a higher price tag. But like any other passing fad in the fashion industry, the sporty chic craze is about to run its course, which presents a unique opportunity for the Vancouver-born company to prove its significance beyond said trend.

Laurent Potdevin, who took over as CEO in 2014, explains to CNBC, “Athleisure, that bubble will pop and the people that are not in it for the right reasons will go away.”

The brand’s focus on technical fashion is what sets Lululemon up in a good position, despite the impending conclusion of the socially acceptable phenomenon of wearing leggings as pants. A 6 percent increase was observed in the last quarter as a result of the latest innovations, which includes revamped walls on yoga bottoms in each store. The pants are made with new, thicker, and sturdier fabrics, and they’re organized according to how they feel—held-in, hugged, naked, relaxed, and tight—serving as a guide to ease the shopping experience. Another new improvement in the company is the electronically tagged items, so that managers can track inventory while app users can find out if a certain item is still in stock.

It’s all about rebuilding that guest loyalty, says Potdevin, which meant making changes to the quality of their products to re-establish their position in athletic fashion, as well as their prestige as a lifestyle brand. Future goals entail swimwear, a men’s line, North American store expansion, and doubled sales by 2020.

How do you think Lululemon will cope when the age of athleisure finally comes to an end?