Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 In Review - The Love is on Life Support

Last year I titled my year end review "The Love is Waning" and things have only gotten worse this year. Enthusiasm for the brand has continued to slide among long time fans and many have given up and turned to other brands. Though last quarter's results pleased Wall Street, lululemon resorted to offering up to 10% (usually 8%) back on Ebates, emailing gift cards, and sponsoring blog posts to entice people to buy.

Reasons enthusiasm seems to be at an all time low and continuing to fall:

  • Price increases across the board. Notable increases on: Swiftlys (up $10), Defines (now $118, $128 in Canada), Scubas, tanks, bras, shorts - most everything was hit with an increase.  Items also seem to move to WMTM quickly so that people wait for them to hit markdown before buying. It's been noticed that lately some items have been quietly repriced lower (e.g., Break Free Kit was originally $98 but repriced to $68). 
  • Lack of color.  Lululemon has gone to a mostly black and gray palette with occasional punches of jewel tones for the fall/winter season. There are only so many black and white prints a person can buy.  Lack of compelling prints and colors is the number one reason I don't buy.
  • Generic, un-feminine, shapeless/boxy, cheap-looking (and cheap to manufacture) designs. Lack of fun design details like ruffles, decorative stitching, ruching, etc.  Pockets on run pants seem to be less functional. It all screams of cost-cutting. It used to be you could tell a lululemon design at a glance but it's become very generic and blends in with all the other brands now.
  • Core favorites "innovated" to an inferior new design - CRBII, Scuba III/IV, DSP III, DSC II, Sculpt Tank II, the Vinyasa Wrap. Two of these, the CRB and the Vinyasa, are where people often have a "collection" of dozens. I have around 75 original CRBs but only two of the CRBII.  I bought, along with many others, five of the original CRBs that hit WMTM after Christmas.  
  • Bad website revamp - can't zoom on photos, too much clicking, energetic red changed to a dull black color scheme. 
  • Winter offerings lacked textured items like herringbone and pique in favor of new "textures" like the spray jacquards which ended up on WMTM across the board. Tech Fleece was cheapened and made thinner this year. There were no Sherpa Fleece items offered this year.

A few good things have come about this year:

  • Store search feature on app and website and send sales from stores was re-instated.
  • Rulu is back to being thick and soft, for the most part, and offered in solid colors.
  • No more polyester in luon/luxtreme prints - Full on luxtreme fabric is a now a 69 nylon/31 lycra mix that minimizes print fade (grin) with stretch and is compressive yet breathable. A fantastic update to the fabric.
  • New fabrics: Nulu and Nulux. I'm not sold on either of these but I know a lot of people like them.

My Personal Best of This Year:

I went through my list of everything I bought this year and this is my list of favorite new designs:

1. 69/31 Blend No-polyester Full On Luxtreme Prints. Love the new version of full on luxtreme. If more cute prints were offered in Wunder Under Crops and Pace Rivals I would buy a lot more. My favorite print from this year was Dottie Tribe.

2. Wild and Free Tank

I know the Wild and Free Tank went to WMTM in all sizes and colors across the board but it became my favorite hot weather/sweaty workout top. I bought every color and a second black backup at full price.  This is my kind of workout tank - technical fabric (light luxtreme), flattering fit, braless-singlet with a mesh upper back for breathability.

3. Black Swiftly
I usually highlight only new designs in this space but I have to give a mention to the solid black Swiftly tops that came out this year.  It was high time a true black Swiftly came out. I bought three of the tanks and one short sleeve. 

3. Lace Cool Racerback

A nice special edition version of the CRB, perfect for sweaty workouts. I wouldn't have minded if the CRBII copied this shape. I bought two of these tops in black because I can never have enough technical tanks in black.

4. Exhale CRB

Another nice special edition of the CRB. I got all three colors of this.

5. Hotwave Tank

My favorite of the Seriously Light Luon tanks that came out this year - loose fitting and not too low in the neckline or armhole. I bought two of these and would have gotten more if it came in better colors. 

6.  H20 Energy Bra

It was nice to have my favorite bra style offered in a swim version.

7. Urbanite Backpack

I bought this to use while at SeaWheeze but it has now turned into my daily purse. I'd love to get another one and checked out prices on eBay but they're going for ~$200. I hope this design has a curtain call next year.

8. Outrun Half Zip

It was nice to see a return of solid rulu tops this year in pretty jewel tones like Chilled Grape and Hero Blue. I bought two of the Outrun Half Zips in Hero and Alberta Lake. 

9. Digital Print Bottoms

I really liked the first two offerings of digitally printed bottoms - the Deep Sea Speed Wunders and Dottie Tribe Wunder Under pants but I haven't liked any subsequent prints well enough to shell out the premium $128 price charged for digital print.

All in all, it was a poor year for design. As always, I hope next year improves.

What were your favorites this year? What are you hoping to see out of lululemon for 2017?

New Print - Strive Multi Black - and Items in the Stores

New print called Strive Multi Black arriving in US and Canadian stores. I am not sure of the name but it looks like a photo of a galaxy - the color code is SRMB. So far I've seen in-store photos of Speed Tights, Inspire Tights (both shown above), Wunder Under Pants, Energy Bra, Fast Lane Bra, Free to Be Zen Bra, and Speed Shorts. The bottoms are made of full on luxtreme and the print is backed in white but has no/little fade.  Pow Pink Shorts and a new jacket shown also.