Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review - A Year of Transition

The word that best describes this year best to me is potpourri. A lot of releases didn't feel like they had a coherent story or color palette and there seemed to be coordinating pieces that were missing. The Co-Lab/&Go/Noir releases added to the schizophrenic feeling.

Best Things That Happened This Year:

1 - Practice cotton. A huge hit and reminiscent of the quality cotton offerings under the old OQOQ line. If only vitasea tees and tanks could be made a little thicker and in prints (really tired of heathered and striped tees) and more dip dye, I'd be super happy with the non-luon/luxtreme offerings. I would love to see a pair of Practice Cotton Still Pants.  I think it would work in that fabric. Those, or the Lulu Pant IIs.

2 - Roll down waist on Wunder Unders and High Times pants. I know tons of people who won't buy regular WUPS/WUCs anymore. They love the roll-down waists that much.

3 - On-line warehouse sales - a huge success. So convenient. Keep them coming.

4 - A return to more customer friendly policies. The return policy has been broadened and stores have quietly returned to doing charge-ships and holding items for customers. These were abandoned under Day. Update - a reader pointed out, and I have to agree, the the mail-in return process can be very frustrating, particularly when you have multiple returns and try to combine them into one to save on processing costs since each return is $5. Returns take a long time to process, often a month.

5 - Earth colors like fatigue, rich earth, bark brown. People really liked the browns and greens we saw. However, we need some ivory (or cashew) technical tops to pair with them. Years ago, when Fox and Branch luon bottoms were out there were coordinating tanks in Ivory to pair with them. If you are going to put out earthy colors, PLEASE put out an Ivory CRB to go with them.

6 - New fabrics. Successes: diamond jacquard fabric (love this), textured stripe/textured wave, textured fabrics for run bottoms (herringbone and textured wave). I really like this trend. Fullux was, I think, a fail. The fabric is shiny, thick and doesn't stretch as much as regular luxtreme. Lululemon needs to keep tweaking fullux.

7 - Thick rulu was back this year - yay! Now all we need is a return to some solid colored rulu pullovers and long sleeves. I cannot wear a heathered or striped rulu top with a print or textured bottom bottom.

8 - Space dye - thicker, softer - swiftly material. Love these - keep them coming.

9 - Herringbone/Pique. I stocked up on tons of Herringbone, Coco Pique, and Mini Check pique warm and cozy tops. My favorites were the Coco Pique Race Your Pace LS, a Coco Pique Forme Jacket, and the Black Herringbone Think Fast Pullover. Lululemon went overboard on the gray and black toned tops so now they need to steal the colored piques and herringbone back from Ivivva for next year.

10 - Prints in regular luon and not fullux for non-run bottoms.

11- The return of the Scuba. So happy about this.

12 - Love the special edition and limited release offerings for events - Sea Wheeze Expo, NYC Marathon, Wanderlust, the bicycle theme tops for the Robson store opening. As a collector, it sucks to hunt these down, but I love the spirit behind the SE stuff.

Retired Styles:

Astro Pant, No Limit Tank (in North America, anyway), Gather and Crow crops, Forme Jacket, Nice Asana Jacket, First Base Tank (This should come back. The Think Fast Tank has a bad fit.).

My Personal Best Of:

There weren't a ton of new designs that appealed to me this year - most of my purchases this year revolved around running, so a lot of swiftly tanks, tees, and print Inspire crops or basics like Groovy Run or Tracker II shorts and Cool Racerbacks.  Some of my favorite purchases this year:

lululemon post practice cardi

 1- Post Practice Cardi. I got this at the beginning of the year and wear it all the time. It's such a handy piece.

2 - Waterbound/Bound bra - one of my favorite technical pieces this year. The Waterbound bra material is compressive enough and the straps short enough that I can actually run half marathons in this bra. As a [natural, middle-aged, breast-fed-three-kids] 36DD I never thought I could run comfortably in a shelf bra. Love this bra. Wish it was offered in a twelve in the US (like it is in Australia).

lululemon up your pace crop
3 - Up The Pace Crop - shorter length run crop with a comfy leg opening and just a little bit of mesh on the side of the calf.

lululemon runner up tank
4 - Runner Up Tank - This didn't sell that well but I'll put it down to poor color choices and the words "runner up" on the front. This is a great lightweight run tank with cute gathers in the back that doesn't ride up. One of my favorites for hot run days.

lululemon race your pace ls

3- Race Your Pace LS - Love this top a lot for it's simple and flattering design. I got it in the Black Coco Pique.

lululemon think fast pullover

4 - Herringbone Think Fast Pullover - one of the more simple pullovers to come out in recent years. I bought two, in herringbone and black mini check pique. I think this pullover works best in the stiffer fabric of the herringbone. My only nit is that I wish it zipped up to a full turtleneck.

lululemon race your grace pullover
5 - Race with Grace Half Zip - This came out in January so counts as a 2014 design. Clean but flattering lines and a lot of functionality - wind-cutting brushed luxtreme, cuffins, kangaroo pockets, turtleneck, dual chest zip. I bought a Baroque blue last January and the Atomic Red last week.

6 - Inkwell Cabin Yogi LS - Love this sweater. Long with simple and flattering lines.

4 - Diamond Jacquard WUPS - The diamond jacquard space dye fabric is wonderful - thick, soft, compressive, and opaque. This really isn't for working out but for casual wear.

lululemon herringbone speed tight

5 - Giant Herringbone Speed Tight IIs - Speed tights aren't really a new design but the giant herringbone "textured" luxtreme is a new fabric. Love that the herringbone doesn't scream workout tights.

lululemon inspire crop

6 - Textured Wave Inspire crops - another great textured luxtreme.

Trends I Am Not Liking:

1 - Not enough new technical tank designs and especially luon or luxtreme buil-in-bra tank designs, especially that accommodate bustier women. Most of the tanks that worked for busty women that came out this year were what my husband calls a bra with a curtain - Run Time Tank, Stash It tank, Wild Tank, etc.. I think I only bought two new built-in-bra tanks this whole year - the Warrior Dance Tank and a Stuff Your Bra tank. Simple but great tanks with wide straps that work for all bust sizes (like the Push UR Limits, Deep V, Power Dance, etc.) were what made lululemon and it seems they've largely been abandoned.

2 - Dropped Shoulders - looks cheap and ruins the fit through the chest and armpit. Awful, awful trend that shouldn't be followed.

3 - Not enough Cool Racerbacks coming out. It was stated that Cool Racerbacks are not going away, so where are they?

4 - On the same note, there are too many tanks (and tops) being made from sheer luon and tanks being made with giant, bra-exposing armholes (Think Fast Tank, High neck Swiftly tank, Citta Singelet).

5- Size twelve seems to be disappearing more and more lately and it seems to be purely to whim and not have any reason behind it. There also seem to be fewer tops and jackets offered in twelves, too.

6 - Zip-off jackets - the functionality no one is asking for

7 - Co-Lab/&Go/Noir - It seemed repetitive, every release was mesh, cut off boxy top, boxy dress, racerback clingy dress, masculine-style drop crotch pants, baseball jacket, puffy short skirt, and hi-waisted shorts - in stiff swim material or shiny whatever material - forgettable, unflattering, and largely ugly. I almost suspect a ton of it was designed to use up overstocked fabric. Did it bring in new customers? Did the core customer like it? I don't see it added much to the brand and the costs were not worth the benefits.

My Candidates for Worst Of: 
(Unfortunately, there were a ton of these this year. Since the design team/management had been in flux for a good part leading into this year's design cycle, I'm hoping the coming year will be better.)

lululemon tranquility vest
1- Tranquility Jacket

Lululemon had a lot of ugly vest designs this year: 

lululemo blazer vest
 2- Blazer Vest

lululemon quickchange vest
 3- Quickchange Vest

lululemon everything she wants vest
4 - Everything She Wants Vest

lululemon dickie
 5 - The Dickie

lululemon rolling with my omies pant
 6 - Rolling with My Omies Pant

lululemon party onesie
7 - Party Onesie

lululemon runsie
8- Departure Softshell

lululemon runsie
9 - Tie One On Pant

lululemon runsie

Things I'd Like to See Next Year:

lululemon post chaturanga pullover
I would love it if the Post Chaturanga Pullover came back. Or some sherpa fleece-line pullover.

lululemon zoom singlet

lululemon zoom singlet

lululemon zoom singlet
I want the Zoom Singlet to come back. It's like a shelfless luxtreme Power Y and a very versatile tank.

What were your favorites from this year? What are you hoping to see come out next year? What are you hoping lululemon does differently this year?

Britt's Picks

lululemon lets get visible hoodie

More reflectivity is on the way, in addition to new colors Dark Cherry, Dark Wren, and Deep Camo.

lululemon lets get visible hoodie
The Let's Get Visible Hoodie is shown with Reflective Inspire crops. I read a report the new hoodie is $228.

lululemon lets get visible vest

lululemon runaway vest

lululemon stash it crop

lululemon dark wren

lululemon run times short

lululemon essence tank