Saturday, January 3, 2015

Studio Racerback Vs. Cool Racerback & Oil Slick Blue Lotus Camo vs. Inkwell


lululemon studio racerback

lululemon studio racerback

lululemon studio racerback
Compared to a First Base Tank

I went to the store today to see if I could hunt down an Oil Slick Blue Lotus Camo Studio Racerback and ended up coming home with the black one. I haven't been able to find the Menthol or the Lotus Camo SRBs in a 12 in three of my local stores, though the style does go up to a 12. I'm hoping they'll be uploaded on Tuesday. Here are a couple of comparison photos to show the sizing differences between the Cool Racerback and the Studio. They're pretty similar in fit through the chest and waist, the SRB is just bit shorter, about 1.5" on my size 12 tops. I like the wider neckline and back of the SRB quite a bit and I can see amassing a good-sized collection of these tanks. Update - reading on my boards that eds are telling people the CRB is going to be "phased out" at least until spring in favor of the SRB. I'm not sure what that means because I know there is a new Dream Rose CRB in the stores and Australia also got a Menthol CRB. I assume we aren't going to see a lot of CRBs but that's been the case since the Refresher Racer tank came on the scene.

lululemon oil slick lotus camo define
Indoor light.

lululemon oil slick lotus camo define
Outdoor natural light.


lululemon oil slick lotus camo define
Outdoor light.

lululemon oil slick lotus camo define
Fluorescent light

I also tried on the Lotus Camo Define and ended up coming home with one. I exchanged the Deep Coal Dream Rose Scuba I ordered last week for it. These photos show the Define and an Inkwell Studio Surf Jacket. I was curious to see how Oil Slick Blue compared to Inkwell.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Zinfandel/Orchid Vinyasa spotted in store today

Anonymous said...

too bad about the tanks..... hate that curved hemline!!!!!! since the crb is such a popular design that usually sells out when they come out w/ new pretty colors, that makes alot of sense that lulu would faze it out.... if its super popular get rid of it, ya, way to go lululemon!!!!!

Anonymous said...

They are phasing out the crb's?? Seriously are they trying to get rid of their tall clientele?? The whole reason I became a lulu fan was because of their selection of pants and tops in the longer length. It's hard enough finding stylish athletic wear in longer lengths please don't make it any worse!

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 5:34 pm - I know. There was a big stink about the Refresher Racer replacing the CRB a few months ago, we made a big post about it on Hey, Lululemon with people writing in they had collections of 30, 60, 200 CRBs and lulu saying 'we never knew how popular they were' (seriously, does no one analyze what is selling at the company), were told it's not going away, and here we are, it's being phased out for awhile. I think there could be an argument for offering both styles. E.g. have a solid Plum Peach CRB and a heathered Plum Peach SRB. If you can have a Yogi Racerback, a Modern Racerback, and an OM Racerback out at the same time, you can surely have two light luon racerbacks at the same time. Get rid of the Refresher, the Studio is better. Someone really needs to take a look at the tank offerings from a global point of view. There is a lot of clumping in the tank designs and not much variety.

Anonymous said...

a little insulting that you think we don't analyze anything.

Anonymous said...

Extremely disappointing and tone-deaf, as usual. Won't be buying the SRB - too short, and the lower cut in the back between the straps makes it less versatile for me. I have a ton of CRBs (probably 40, at least). This is a big mistake on LLL's part.

Anonymous said...

Thanks LLA for the comparison info and I wholeheartedly agree with your comment @6:03 especially on offering more than one design. And really? No one analyzes how much of an item is selling, the CRB in particular? Wow! This is so bizarre to me. Would explain why they keep producing crap that goes to wmtm because no one really has a handle on what sells/does not sell.

If they are not phasing it out I am happy. I certainly hope they continue to make it in great colours (and hello Alberta Lake solid or heathered please!). I also hope they don't cheapen them.

I am not interested in any of the other tanks styles (have not tried the Studio Racer but I don't like the back). The Refresh Racer was/is such a dud - they tried to sell that to me that in one store when they saw me looking over CRBs.

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 6:24 pm - Glad to hear you do - and I swear I read an article that mentioned something similar about customer research - but then why the decision to phase out the Cool Racerbacks? It's very obvious Lululemon has been cutting back on them since the Refresher Racer came out. They have to be one of the best selling items lululemon makes. Because of the low price and near-universally flattering styling they are definitely a gateway item to bringing new customers into the brand. Additionally, with all the crazy print bottoms coming out, it makes sense to have a few solid CRB colors on hand to match with the prints and you have an easy $42 add on to a bottom sale.

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 6:24 pm - Found the article I was thinking of: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303812904577295882632723066

And here are the quotes I was thinking of:

"...Lululemon doesn't use software to gather customer data"

"When it comes to making decisions, Lulu has gone back to basics. It doesn't use focus groups, website visits or the industry staple—customer-relationship management software, which tracks purchases.

Instead, Ms. Day spends hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores. "

"Big data gives you a false sense of security," says Ms. Day, who spent 20 years at Starbucks Corp. , overseeing retail operations in North America and around the world." "

This was from a 2012 article.

I mean, what lead to the decisions to change the Scuba Hoodie and get rid of the Define in favor of the Forme? Other than the obvious cost cutting ones, of course. Christine Day used to pawn off major changes to core favorites as "customer feedback" but we all know that was bunk. Those really bad decisions led to alienating customers and cutting back on Cool Racerbacks is yet another bad decision.

Robyn Lewis said...

Umm where ?! Do tell

JK said...

It is really disheartening to hear that the CRB is being phased out after all. I haven't purchased one since Bumble Berry, primarily because the selection of solid colors has been lackeing. The Refresh and Studio designs don't interest me at all--I don't care for the curved hems and need the extra length of the CRB. I did my part by contributing to the lively heylululemon discussion awhile ago. It is too bad they are still trying to fix something that isn't broken by trying to replace a tried and true design.

Anonymous said...

@anon 6:24...

It shouldn't be insulting, but it is criticism, from an excellent resource who is coming from a place of expertise and love for the brand. There is enough evidence to suggest proper analyses are not taking place or that LLL analysts are really amateur (consider the LLL take on "trendy" street wear as seen with the &go line, which seems to miss the mark with most releases). Either way, the changes that are being implemented appear to be overwhelming failures from a consumer (and shareholder) perspective...

Furthermore, do you work for LLL, anon? Because that doesn't sound like LLLspeak to me. Shouldn't you be saying something about appreciating the feedback and using it to elevate the brand?

Anonymous said...

(The above said, I wish my store stocked more strangling, high necked tanks....said no LLL shopper ever.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up LLA, I for one come here to find out the behind the scenes info, I honestly don't trust some of the Facebook groups, etc. Please keep us informed and I encourage my fellow Lulu customer friends here to pound them hard if they remove the CRB from the rotation. Ms. Day is a fool if she doesn't look at the hard numbers. Stop trying to make Lulu into something it isn't or you will alienate your core customer base. A lot of damage has been done already with tweaking the Scubas and trying to be sneaky using cheap materials and zips, thinking we won't notice.
Seriously, what the heck is wrong with this company?

Anonymous said...

Why haven't they hired you?!

Anonymous said...

I actually really like the refresher Racer ! It fits much better than the CRBs.(For my athletic body in any case).

Anonymous said...

I do like the oil slick Define, but passed on it because I don't think I will be able to make it work with too many bottoms.

I tried on the SRB and didn't like it, just felt too much like an Ivivva tank top. All the proportions seemed smaller and not as figure flattering (and I'm only 5'2"). That being said, I won't be too sad if they discontinue the CRB since I think I have amassed enough of them to last a few decades. I also will not miss my husband's monthly musings when he goes through the credit card statement "Why are there always so many charges for $45.36 from Lululemon.com??" Ah the tell tale sign of a CRB hoarder.

Eric Lewis said...

So lulu doesn't look at the fact they sold "4500 crbs last month as an example" based on the website and stores data. I'm sure they analyze sales. That doesn't seem right to me... Bc obviously if something doesn't sell... There's a reason (aka fugly or overpriced seem the top two). Why get rid of something that sells...

Anonymous said...

Hey all, I was also told by an educator that the very popular Studio Pant is being phased out!! The store I was in had no Talls left so I jumped online when I got home and sure enough....ZIP no tals and very little to choose from in regular sizes. LLA have you heard about this? I live in this pants as they are great for the medical field uniform.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I wonder if I need to stock up on basics like black and white? Or if they will just disappear for awhile to drive up demand and then return? I stopped buying WUs bc of sheerness, stopped buying studio pants and other bc they stopped coming on long, and stopped buying pullovers and cold weather run pieces bc I have so many better quality older ones. The CRB is basically all I go to lulu for anymore aside from the one-off fantastic piece (think fast hoodie!) But I do love the CRB and becuase I wear them pretty much 7 days a week I would buy them forever. Seriously, should I stock up on basic black and white CRBs in case they really are gone for good?!

Anonymous said...

Well said LLA! I strongly agree and applaud your ability to support your statements and views with indisputable facts. As well, for the record I only wear CRBs and the odd Swiftly tank. Upon further examination after reading this post, I own 56 CRBs! Lulu please keep the CRB and more colours.

Anonymous said...

What I can say ? I am very new to lulu (6 month young to be precise). I started with WUPs, NLTs and CRBs were the last items on my mind. However, after buying one, I can't stop ! They are so versatile. I have a refresher tank tank but it really doesn't fit like a CRB.

Anonymous said...

with no offense to the 90% of the ED's.....the ones saying that it was being phased out may be misinformed. I actually find that I often know more about a product than some of them do. It is actually a little awkward and embarrassing to have an educator informing you about an item that you already know ore about ( from the boards). I think if LLL does anything different with CRB production, they will lose ( if not temporarily) a huge population of buyers. I have an embarrassing amount, and buy every color I love. They are affordable, wash and wear great, a staple~ what company would eliminate a staple!

Anonymous said...

Nice one LLA! Very solid, diplomatic but pointed reply to 6:24. If they have changed their "analysis" from what Day did, it hasn't been made clear, has it?

I will say that it is continually disappointing that LLL will churn out a lot of crap (ugly patterns and/or unflattering cuts in tanks, jackets, pants) that all goes to wmtm, that no one wants, instead of focusing on making only desirable, appealing and flattering items. 2014 saw some nice stuff (herringbone, coco pique, wafs prints/materials, and a few nice shirts) but overall was lacklustre. As has been pointed out, some fan favourites (including the original Scuba and Define) brought back to regain customer loyalty. While customers who wear and buy LLL are fortunate enough to do so, it is not lost on us how wasteful this company is by the very undesirable items it continues to produce. Shouldn't you quit wasting resources? This affects the bottom line! You also lose customer loyalty as we start looking elsewhere. Then you lose customers' attention and business altogether.

It’s also observed that some beautiful, appealing items are produced for Australia (that NA may or may not see), Wanderlust, and SeaWheeze. The company is clearly capable of offering great items, yet is still offering a lot of passable items to the general customer in regular retail. It’s fine for exclusive items to be made available to people actually attending those events, but similarly great items should be produced for regular retail. As for exclusivity, not so much: Wanderlust, the general public ambushed the Whistler store and for SeaWheeze, general public can also enter the SW store and hoard items.

On the CRB, the only tank I wear, I have about 40 (wear one almost every day) and am always keeping my eye on the next one that is a great colour or a classic one, and thick and soft. I have gotten friends into LLL by this tank alone (given as a gift) and they “hate” me for it because they end up buying more CRBs and more LLL items as well. I do think LLL needs to offer a petite version of this tank. Reviews alone will tell you that the strap length and fit in the body can be an issue for a petite person. Hemming a regular CRB does not solve their issues.

In the last two years my spending for LLL has dropped tremendously. There used to be so much that I wanted and purchased (and I workout hardcore so it all gets used). My spending on LLL has curbed tremendously in the last two years. I think there are many loyal customers who can say the same.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they are starting, as of June, to change their use of customer data, although the article isn't all that specific. It http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/12/lululemon-customer-data_n_5489641.html

reya said...

Orchid zifandel vinyasa??! More info please ! :)

Anonymous said...

Noooooooo! I LOVE the CRB, mostly because of the LENGTH! There is no way I'll be purchasing any studio racerbacks. In fact, the CRB (and the occasional Power Y) are the only tanks I buy from Lulu. Guess I'll be saving money.

Anonymous said...

@6:24 well it really appears that you don't!there are strange items that go straight to sale! There is such a demand for terry items and the want for core items and rulu items for winter! But we really haven't seen much of that! I still check the fabulous blog, but I really haven't purchased
Many items in the last year because there isn't anything I want!

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 7:08 am - I think eds are told very little about what is going on with the company so I don't fault them for what they know or don't know as far as the future goes. However, two people reported in my group their store eds told them the CRB was taking a little "vacation" and with the paucity of CRB options since the Refresher Racer appeared on the scene it is not surprising to hear this rumor. Anyway, back to eds knowing about the products - we are super geeks about lulu and obsess over lots of details that "normal" people don't. I do not expect them to know as much as we do and when they introduce me to the tank wall and ask me about the product, they are just doing their job. I usually point to what I am wearing - head to toe lulu - and smile and tell them I am familiar with the products, thanks. I think what the eds are great at is being a resource about fit and performance of an item. They are all strongly encouraged to take classes/be active so I often ask them if they have run or done spin in a certain new item and how they liked it - was it hot, did it ride up, does it slide down, did your boobs pop out of it? Those type of things. They often have used a product and can advise you if you ask the right questions.

Anonymous said...

I bought the Zinfadel/Orchid vinyasa in Calgary store yesterday...it was the only one. I asked if it was new and the ed thought it had just come in but she wasn't sure. It's a beauty!

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 8:14 am - My personal opinion is that Christine Day did a lot of damage to lululemon and it will take them awhile to recover from it. If you bought lululemon around 2009/2010 you'll know that tanks/tops/pretty much everything had a lot more detail to them - items made of three or more fabrics, lots of pieces that had to be sewn together, decorative stitching, ruching, ruffles, etc. Look up these tanks to see what I am talking about - Shrug Tech and the Circuit Tech - to see what I am talking about. (Shrug tech here: http://www.luluaddict.com/2008/12/runshrug-tech-prettiest-running-shirt.html) When Day really came on board you started to see a lot of simplification of design to cut costs. You also saw materials get a lot thinner. I suspect there was a move to cheaper manufacturers, too. In addition, quality control was neglected as the company massively expanded. So, Potdevin has to unwind a lot of this stuff/get various internal systems up to par with the size of the company, keep Wall Street/shareholders happy, and keep customers happy. I think lululemon has started to make good progress on the fabric front. E.g., we saw a lot thicker rulu this year - across the board. Rulu got pretty thin under Day for a lot of items - the Layer Me LS is a good example. The new Practice Cotton is another great fabric. Lululemon used to have nice technical cotton pieces under the OQOQ lline and the new Practice Cotton reminds me a lot of OQOQ. The diamond jacquard fabric was another great fabric.

I also suspect there is some tension within lululemon as to which direction the designs should take. A more fashionista approach - like in the CoLab/&Go - or the "old" lululemon, which defined their own segment - creating favorites like Cuddle Up jackets but which aren't exactly fashionable. They're fashionable within our little lulu world but not to the outside world. I think they can do both - the Jet crops are lulu's take on the track pant look that is fashionable right now. And I also think lululemon should define their own fashion, like they used to. There also seems to be a drive to offering a lot more casual wear but it's come at the expense of the technical wear, like built in bra tanks. I know the status of the tank wall was discussed on the quarterly results conference call so the company does know there is a problem there.

Anyway, after wading through my book of a response, the most we can do is voice our displeasure and the company will respond or not.

My personal opinion is that I'd rather have more detailed designs, like those from six years ago, and high quality, even at a higher price but I'm probably in the minority.


Anonymous said...

@ 6:24 pm - is that you Chip Wilson?

Michelle Lu said...

I think "phased out" means they'll be rolling out fewer new colors until next season

Anonymous said...

@ LLA 1:42 PM, 8:14 here. Agree with your comments once again. I would also go for exceptional quality and more detail. I have been buying LLL that long and the one thing I love about older items is how well they are made and the level of detail. That's why I just can't settle for some of their clothes now and I have become very selective (plus I have a fair bit I can still count on). This is definitely OK for me because it forced me to be really critical of what I buy. Before I used to want almost everything, lol. I also appreciate that I'm not the customer the &Go line etc. is aimed at, and they want to make offerings and progress there. (Personally, I just don't see anything that special in it.) To you point, the technical, true workout wear and the other versatile/cozy items have suffered and that's what longtime customers miss. I don't think there are many brands out there that a customer is so into or roots for so much. I have faith in Potdevin, but only time will tell.

On someone's comment above regarding educators not knowing as much as readers here: when I shop I don't try to sound like I know too much and I don't expect them to be greatly informed. I don't even ask for the real colour description of something though I know it. I'll say something like the pinky/purple in whatever type shirt. I also find the ed's will ask what my activity is and get very excited when I tell them both yoga and running. Sometimes we have a nice chat about yoga studios or places to run in the city, or upcoming races. In general I can't complain about the ed's in my city. They're usually pretty personable and helpful.

Anonymous said...

former educator here. It was 2010/2011, so a while ago, but still..I know that in the stores, we'd use a restock report and we could run it for a certain time period. For example, you could run it for Tuesday between 12:00 and 2:00 and it would tell you all of the product that was sold during that time period. Lets say there was a blue CRB in a 6. The report would tell me if we had extras in stock, then I could go to the back and replace that blue size 6 CRB and put it on the floor. Long story short, I'm pretty sure they can analyze their sales data at the corporate level if they can do it at the store level.

Anonymous said...

I loved those tanks that were nice and long w/ the ruffles down the back, i have 3 there was a pink one i think it was smokie rose it was beautiful missed out on that and have never seen it on ebay either, guess everyone in my size loves theirs because they are never there. Yeah i miss the cute tops that they had tons of styles i loved!!!!!! now most of the tanks minus the swiftly, crb, modern are mostly fug..... a couple others here and there I've liked though, the pants i never like anymore, the flood style i was liking and have some but haven't seen that style like forever!!!!

Anonymous said...

Luluddict, I agree, I'd much rather more 'old' lulu than stuff that is supposedly more fashionable. I don't care about trends and fashion, but I do love the old Lulu.

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 6:22 pm - I suspect CRB sales have fallen off somewhat and that is why lulu thought of replacing it. However, I would go the more SE route - with ruffles, mesh back, circle mesh version - to pump up interest in the style instead of canning it altogether. There are a ton of striped CRBs but no nice solid colors. I would love a Plum Peach CRB and I know a ton of people would love Alberta Lake.

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 9:27 am - thanks for that link. They also sent out a big email survey about 6 or so weeks ago.

MB. said...

LLA, I love your sidenote about educators. Very reasonable.

As for the CRB vacation...this is the first that I've heard of it. I'm not saying it won't happen, maybe it will, but I'm not 100% sure (and I have fairly close ties to the company and its employees). I'll dig more into it.

As for the "WHY"...I'm not sure. It doesnt seen to make much sense on paper. All I can think of is when they discontinued the Game on Boxer ~6 months ago. It was a huge ??? internally, since it's one of the best rated items and a huge draw to a crowd of men that wont normally try the product. That being said, it was replaced by a product (The No Boxer Boxer), that is shorter (less fabric) and doesnt use Coolmax (a more expensive fabric). Short answer? Cost cutting.

I wonder if this is what's happening with the CRB, too, as dumb and short sighted as it sounds. The answer by some anons on here that corporate just doesnt know how popular/important the CRB is is just too naive, IMO.

Anonymous said...

yeah agree! if they'd put out the crb in solids and in colors we all crave..... they sell out, but no they release ugly stripe combo's often!!!!! what ever i have a ton and when they figure this stuff out..... i'll buy nice solid colors, usually they come around but it takes them awhile could be a year or two or three..... ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LuluAddict said...

@MB - Gah, the old "cost cutting." I'd hope we left that behind with Christine Day. That is one suspicion about why the retirement of the CRB - it's a long tank and uses more fabric than shorter ones. However, so many of lululemon's competitors make short tanks and hardly anyone makes nice, long ones so length is ad advantage lululemon should not discard lightly. As lots of people have noted here, lulu's ratio of great designs to duds seems pretty low and if they did a better job of weeding out the duds that end up on markdown you would think they could save money that way. I'm sure tons of man power/resources goes into husbanding a design through the design, manufacturing, and distribution process.

The other thing about cost cutting that doesn't seem to make sense is that we are now seeing some more elaborate (than in the recent past) designs coming - the new Just Breathe Tanks and LS, the Stash It Crops, Just Breathe Pant and crops. My personal theory is corporate is thinking the CRB is a bit stale and they wanted to introduce a new, more modern silhouette. But, you could be right, it could be cost cutting is at the bottom of this.

Deezee007 said...

Looks like I will have to get back on my high horse about saving our beloved CRB!!

I am tall and have broad shoulders/large bust so going smaller is not an option for me. CRB's are my staple and a lot of other people's staples. Why would they mess with that?

Anonymous said...

I think that lulu should make a long and a regular CRB tank.
I prefer mine a bit shorter since I am petite. I also think they are way too low cut. I have several of them and I really like them.

I also feel that they know what they are doing, desire and nostalgia makes us lulu addicts want and lulu only trickels down bits and pieces to keep us hungry.


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