Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review - The Love is Waning

This was a very odd year for lululemon. Product distribution never seemed to recover from the West Coast Port strike that disrupted deliveries for well over half the year. Distribution seemed sporadic - Asia or the UK would get new product weeks ahead of North America, if we ever got it. Even in North America, both Canada and the US got products the other never got. I wrote that last year felt schizophrenic and the same can be said for this year - seasonal releases still don't have a coherent story and seem to have missing pieces and the color palettes are all over the place. One good thing is the Co-Lab/&Go/Noir releases seem to be less and less oddball-looking.

Enthusiasm for the brand seems to be weakening and there are several contributing factors:

  • High prices. The revamping of the Pant Wall included a change to a two-tier pricing strategy that resulted in a $16 increase for pants in existing stock. It was a move that left a bad taste in customer's mouths. The high prices on the Tight Stuff Tights and the Special Edition Lights Out pieces were also a turn off.
  • Seasonal collections that seem to be haphazard with regard to print, style, and color content. Additionally, it almost seems as if colors are back just to use up left over fabric. Maybe we were spoiled when there was one over-riding vision with regards to a collection, coordinating pieces, colors, and the year as a whole but it is something that has been sorely lacking for a long time now and should be addressed. 
  • Product should be standard for North America across Canada and North America. My personal prejudice is that new designs should debut in North America first, Australia excepted since their seasons are opposite of ours.
  • Prints are too often reminiscent of Nike and Athleta offerings and no longer standout as being special and "lululemon".
  • Terrible, unhelpful website photos. 
  • Store Facebook sites consolidated into regional or city pages and hardly any store photos of educators modeling the new pieces. 
  • Scratchy rulu, thin pique, thin sherpa, unravelling seams, and too much polyester fabric content has popped up this year. This is a slippery slope the company does not want to slide any farther down. People will pay for quality fabric and construction. Do not let 2016 become 2012 redux.
  • Last year's items showing back up at full price under 'What's New'.

Best Things to Happen This Year:

  • The continuing use of textured luons and luxtremes, particularly Space Dye Twist and Cyber Stripe patterns.
  • Colored piques and herringbones making their way back into the adult line. Lululemon stuck their big toe in as far as offering some colorful pique and herringbone items but keep them coming. Let's get some colored sherpa fleece items for next year.
  • Wanderlust Collection (partial) offered on line.
  • Lots of hats in prints.
  • Lots of great bags.
  • Flashes of the "old" lululemon as far as beauty, design detail extras, and understated design in technical pieces - Mesh with Me LS, Face the Frost Half Zip, and Var City Muscle Tank are where I felt this most.

My Personal Best Of:

I went through my spreadsheet of everything I bought this year (scary!) and this is my list of my favorite new designs:

 1.  Pace Rival Crops - I was a little leery of a replacement for the long-time core Inspire crops but once I bought a pair I was all in. The wider waist and slightly relaxed leg made for a good fit tweak but the real reason I love these crops are the thigh pockets. Since they were introduced this summer, I've run three half marathons and a 10K in Pace Rivals. They are the perfect run crop.

2. What the Sport Mesh SS Tee - I had a hard time deciding whether to make the What the Sport or Pace Rivals my number one favorite piece of the year. I know a lot of people love the regular What the Sport SS made of Seriously Light Luon but I think the mesh version, made of Silverescent Circle Mesh, is the best for hot workouts/summer running. This top is the perfect summer run top - cool and loose fitting but still figure-flattering. Moreover, it DOES NOT RIDE UP.  I bought it in all three colors it came in and plan to get every color if it comes back next year. I love, love, love this top. I saw a ton of women wearing it at Sea Wheeze. 

3 - Mesh With Me LS - This piece reminded me most of "old" lululemon, the lululemon of 2009/2010 - flattering fit, gorgeous color, technical fabric, and just enough embellishment to make it special but not overdone. I got all three colors of this. For some reason, Canada did not get this piece. (The new 5 Mile LS reminds me a lot of the Mesh With Me.)

4 - Face the Frost Half Zip - A timeless, classic looking half zip but with nice detailing on the back and arms. It has everything I like to see in a pullover - solid colored, high neck, cuffins, a zip pocket for my phone, long length, figure-skimming cut, and no horizontal seams across the bust. My only nit is the zipper could go a little lower but it's meant for cold weather wear so I can't complain too much. I would love to see this piece come back next year. 

5 - Strap It Like It's Hot Bra - It's brand new but I've already bought all three colors in it. Sturdily constructed with great support and cute details. This bra has potential to be a core item. It's selling very well - I had to go to two stores to find the black one in my size after the website sold out.

6 - Resolution Hobo - It came out at the very end of last year but I bought this on January 1, 2015 so I'm counting it for this year. My most reached for gym bag - perfect size with lots of pockets and a comfortable form.

7 - Wanderlust Diversity Bag - A very cute purse sized bag in a great print. The only thing that would make it perfect would be a zipper closure.

8 - If You're Lucky LS - A very nice and quietly sexy coverup for hot summer days.

9. Var-City Tank - I was underwhelmed when I saw the first photos of the Var-City but my tune changed once I tried it on. It is a very cool, cute, and flattering tank for warm weather. I got a ton of use out of this tank this spring and summer. I ended up buying two of these. 

10 - Down for a Run Jacket/Line - though I didn't buy any of the Down for a Run Line I know it was immensely popular. My sister bought several pieces for herself and her daughter. A very cute jacket with a great fit.

I don't really have a worst of list this year. I don't recall a plethora of eye-rollingly bad designs this year, though this one does rate special mention:

Secret Sanctuary Scarf - aka, the "Forever Alone" scarf. 

What were your favorites of this year? What are you hoping to see out of lululemon for 2016?

What We Love

New Pace Rival crop colorway revealed.

lululemon flurry-fighter-pullover raspberry
The Flurry Fighter is back. I really liked this top when I bought it next year and I've been getting a lot of wear out of it this year with all the cold weather we've been having in Southern California lately. 

lululemon speed-crop
The Speed Crops have been in Asia for weeks (months?) now. Glad they're finally making their way here. I will definitely give them a try but I've been really happy with Pace Rival crops. I think the biggest difference between the two is how high up the leg the thigh pocket resides.

lululemon desert-olive definitely-raining-jacket
Very pretty Desert Olive Definitely Raining Jacket. We're supposed to have a rainy year this year so I need to give this jacket a try on. I know a lot of people like them.

lululemon swiftly-ls-dashing-purple

lululemon let-be-ls
Cool Breeze is one of my favorite lavenders.  I liked the Let Be SS a lot so I'll need to try this on. Note the bottoms in the Blooming Pixie Multi print.

lululemon exquisite-tank-sapphire