Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why I am a Lululemon Addict

I've read quite a few financial analysts comparing Lululemon to other athletic wear brands such as Lucy, Athleta, Under Armour, Nike, Addidas, Danskin, etc. and come away saying Lululemon's product is not superior. They also often mention Lululemon's 'cult' like following.

Lululemon is primarily made for women who are athletically active. I suspect most analysts are men and don't often do anything athletic on a regular basis. Since I am a woman, work out several times a week, and have tried products from all of the companies I listed I actually have a basis for comparison. Let me enumerate the many ways Lululemon offers a superior product.
  • Technical fabrics that are quality constructed resulting in a product that doesn't fade, bag, shrink, or unravel and feel great against the skin.
  • Designed for real women with a flattering fit - 'built-in' bras that really work, even on D-cup ladies, bra cups with pockets for cookies to add more coverage or enhance your bust line, waistbands with color block bands that not only look great but act like Spanx, heavier weight Luon camoflages cottage cheese areas, figure enhancing seaming
  • Designed for active people - fabrics that move with you, breathe, wick, have mesh venting in the right places, flat seams relocated to nontraditional positions to lessen irritation, have great little features: built-in ipod/gym pass pockets, earbud cord tunnels, ponytail holes in caps, gym bags with blackberry and shoe pockets, etc.
  • Great designs and colors - trendy but not flashy (talking to you Bebe sport), not dowdy (Lucy, Atheta, Danskin), offers a lot more variety than different colored racerbacks and tanks (Nike, Addidas, Puma, Under Armour)
1 - Technical Fabrics Lululemon's signature fabric is Luon. It has a matte appearance and cottony feel. It is one of the heavier weight fabrics that I have come across in workout pants. It is wicking, quick drying, and has a 4-way stretch. Because Luon is heavier weight, it is able to camouflage imperfections such as cottage cheese thighs much better than other products. Lucy has a similar product known as Lucy Lux. However, Lucy Lux is not nearly as quick dry or wicking a Luon as I discovered when I hang dry my Lucy and Lululemon pants. The Lululemon pants always dry faster.

Luon also doesn't bag after wearing. My Lucy, Danskin, and Addidas stretch pants all bag in the knees after one wearing.

Luon doesn't fade or shrink with washing. I can't say this for my other workout wear. I've had Nike, Danskin, and Addidas all shrink, fade, and get scratchy on me.

2 - Quality Construction Lululemon uses flat seams on all its products. It also seams everything very thoroughly. I've had several Lucy pieces of mine unravel or have stitching start to come out. For a company that prices its products nearly the same as Lululemon this is unacceptable. The same goes for Athleta. I bought a top with a built in underwire that poked through - ouch.

3 - Built for Real Women who Move One thing that sets Lululemon apart from every other athletic wear brand I have tried is that is designed for women. The built in bras in their tank tops really work - they hold you in place and are not just an additional layer of fabric with a piece of elastic that is too loose to hold you up at all. Most of Lululemon's newest tops come with bra cup pockets to insert "cookies" that provide more coverage (and enhance your bust). I think a lot of women like the cookies to cover their headlights. Sometimes the gym/studio is chilly but we don't need everyone to know it!

Lululemon tops also have great little details - ipod/gym pass pockets in pants and tops, ipod earbud tunnels built into jackets, pony tail hole in running caps.

Lots of their tops are cut long and are designed to stay in place when doing inverted yoga moves (or don't show your belly when weight lifting). The pant seams are moved from the side of the leg so that it doesn't dig into your leg during side-lying yoga moves. The inner thigh seam is also often offset so if you have 'pillowy' thighs your thighs just glide right by each other friction free when doing cardio.

Lululemon's pants are the best around for making the most of what you have, even if you have junk in the trunk or cottage cheese on your thighs. The materials, cut, and construction all work together to make your backside look great. Lululemon is obviously a company that really listens to what women want in their athletic wear and puts money into research and design.

I am an admitted Lululemon addict but it is not because it is trendy. The reason that Lululemon has a cult following is that Lululemon is unique in offering athletic wear that has both fashion and function. I sincerely hope Lululemon keeps making great workout wear for years to come.