Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'm Outing You, "ZELLA"

I was at Nordstrom today shopping for shoes with my six year old son and look what I found. Lululemon, you might ask? Nope, "Zella." I only had a few minutes to try on a pair of pants and inspect the jacket since my son was tired of shopping but what I saw has convinced me that Lululemon is making clothes for the Nordstrom house brand, Zella. (Either that or they have a very winnable knockoff lawsuit in their future.) What capped it for me was when I mentioned the clothes looked a lot like Lululemon the salesgirl asked to feel the fabric on the Still crops I was wearing.

Here are some of the details I saw on the Zella version of Groove pants & Shape jacket:
- exact cut of Groove pants - double ring at top, pant fit tight through leg to knee and then flared out
- reversible - double ring design at top reverses to single wide ring
- interior slit pocket sewn into waistband
- flat seaming with the stiching looking identical (# of rows, placement, etc.) to the pants I was wearing
- hair tie zipper pull with plastic "Zella" logo on jacket (visible on photo above)
- removable labels
- Oh yeah, Zella has a very similar sound to Lululemon with all the 'l's and short 'e'.

A little Googling of the words Zella and Lululemon lead me to a Linkedin entry for a woman named Libby Vance. Her resume is very interesting:
  • Creative Director Women's Athletic In House Brand


    (Public Company; JWN; Retail industry)
    December 2006February 2009 (2 years 3 months)
    Developed in house Brand "Zella" for the athletic market. Brand Vision, Product Planning, Direction of Design , and presentation / sales to buy team.
  • Product Manager

    lululemon athletica

    (Public Company; Retail industry)
    March 2005October 2006 (1 year 8 months)
    Strategy and product planning for the OQOQO division, a sustainable, organic street wear fashion collection. Opened 5 stores in 1 year.
  • Libby Vance’s Summary

    Extensive experience in both technical athletic apparel as well as a specialty in sustainable apparel development.I have worked for US companies such as Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer and Brooks Sports, as well as Canadian based companies Lululemon, Sugoi and Esprit.

    Libby Vance’s Specialties:

    Product brand management, merchandise managment, fabric and apparel sourcing

I can't decide how I feel about this. I pay Lululemon prices for two things: technical fabrics and unique design. The fabric of Zella definitely felt inferior to Lululemon. The Zella fabric is very polyester-y feeling; thin and slippery. I much prefer the weight and feel of Luon. However, the design is very similar if not identical (above are posted examples of what could easily pass for Groove pants, Still pants, Wunder Unders, and the Shape jacket). If you peruse the Nordstrom Zella website the other Zella designs are pretty and unique (and step sisters to Lululemon designs). I didn't purchase any Zella so I can't comment on wicking, breathability, or durability of the fabric but Nordstrom isn't known for crap clothes. I don't think I'll be buying any Zella but I'm kind of disappointed my Lululemon won't be so special anymore.


RunningOnCoffee said...

very interesting...good detective work! clearly she brought some of lululemon's influences over to zella.

LuluAddict said...

Because the styles are so identical I think there was some sort of agreement made between the two companies.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the same thing - but I asked an assistant manager about it and she was very frank with me. She outright told me that the Zella brand is influenced by current trends, many of which are driven by specific brands like Lucy and Lulu. She also told me that one of the designers of Zella had a background at Lulu. I really appreciated her honesty, so I bought a tank and a pair of capris for hot yoga.

I didn't think the fabric felt polyester-y at all, and it breathed incredibly well. So far it hasn't shrunk, pilled, or faded (but I always hang my workout clothes to dry). I've been really happy with my Zella, and I haven't been back to Lulu in months.

(I also really liked that the Nordstrom girls knew their stuff and were friendly and helpful. Any time I go into a Lulu store I feel like I'm interrupting a meeting of the hot snobby yogis club)

Anonymous said...

I was also told by a salesgirl that Zella was
made by the designer of lululemon specifically for nordstrom as an in house brand. I love the stuff!!

Unknown said...

Not to take away from lulu, but I purchased a Zella jacket a year or so ago and it is my favorite jacket by far! I only have experience with lulu crops, but I would say it is of the same technical quality and amazing style as lulu. I would definitely recommend the brand for those who are not near a lulu store but have a nordstrom nearby.

Anonymous said...

i wore my zella booty's today (basically it's the Groove in different fabric).

the zella's were great, they held their shape despite a 110 degree room. i was really pleased and felt they dried quicker than lulu's.

i will more than likely buy zella over lulu now, as we do not have a lulu store in cincinnati so i have to order online. this makes it difficult with losing weight. i'm not sure what lulu sizes will fit since i've lost weight and don't feel like shipping returns.

one point is that i do prefer the more matte look of lulu, but the price, easy access, and function of zella will encourage me to continue to purchase that brand's pants. as of this minute, haven't purchased a zella top for comparison.

Anonymous said...

Were there gussets in the pants?

Anonymous said...

I think most/all Zella products use polyester and lycra, not nylon and lycra. I just bought a Zella jacket, and while it does look matte, not sure how the polyester will withstand wear/wash in comparison to the nylon.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOOOOVE my Zella yoga pants. The are a brown unique stitching yoga pant with 55% cotton, 37% polyester and 8% spandex. These pants are so cool and comfortable, I hope I find another pair. I never got "muffin top" and never felt awkward (like one of those chicks wearing workout/spandex pants looking like she just left the gym, but really didn't)
Been spending all morning trying to find the same exact pair since I wore these out. I've worn and washed them over and over for the past 3 1/2 years. Zella: PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER PANT TYPE JUST LIKE THIS:)

Anonymous said...

I much prefer zella to lulu. I didn't think it was a secret that someone with a lulu background was a major part in this.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer zella to lulu. I didn't think it was a secret that someone with a lulu background was a major part in this.

Cortney said...

I just asked about this at Nordstrom this weekend - and it's true, it's a specialty line by LuLu! They have a bunch of stuff in the Anniversary Sale, too. Love it so much that I wrote about it, too ;)

Anonymous said...

Zella blows Lulu out. Lulu changed their fabric. I have older Lulu that have lasted FAR longer than the new. They got cheap. Zella fabric is thick, soft, super cool to the skin, the fits are better with the jackets and much cuter. I'm a total Zella fan. Guess Lulu should have tried to keep better products and staff, they have enough money! Did anyone happen to notice that their stock went from 6 dollars last year to 120 this month, and then split. Whoa, at least I made some money before people find out about Zella. PS Athleta is another great line!

Industry Insider said...

Lululemon is not designing for Zella and they are not "stealing" ideas by hiring former Lulu designers. I'm not sure why people are so offended about designers moving from one company to another. They are normal people too and you can't expect them to stay at one place forever. And like normal people they will bring ideas and learnings from their past lives to their new ones. With that being said, many retailers have created Lulu-style clothes, especially when it comes to the Groove pant. Look at Athleta, Lucy, Aritzia and Gap just to name a few.

In terms of fabric quality, I think Zella has created a really great fabric. Theirs is polyester/spandex while Lulu's is nylon/spandex, hence the great price difference because nylon is very expensive to produce. And becomes poly has a reputation of being cheap, you should know Nike, Adidas and Reebok all use poly as their main fiber of choice.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with the comments about the fabric changing for Lululemon. The pants I bought 10 years ago were much better quality fabric then the pants I bought 2 or 3 years ago.

Add to that Lulu moved their production offices from Vancouver, BC to China. When they were making record profits. Yes, I realize that Zella is probably made in China too. It's just that Lululemon as a company trades on an image that it doesn't really support.

The design is still excellent.

I just bought a pair of Zella and the fabric quality is much better than Lulu and the design is excellent.

Elizabeth said...

Nordstroms has WAYYY better customer service than most stores, let alone Lululemon, where their customer service is awful. The decrease in quality of Lululemon products has lead me, a long time customer of Lulu, to switch to Zella. :/ Sorry Lulu, if you didn't forget your customers the moment they leave the store, I would have been more loyal.

Anonymous said...

Zella actually sounds more like Stella and probably wanted a piece of that pie.

Anonymous said...

I recently went to Lululemon and I was willing to pay the price for a good pair of workout pants. Went to norstroms tried on Zella. The price was much better and I loved the fabric better. I swore it looked just like Lululemon! So far my Zella clothes are my favorite because the price is right and the quality shows.

Anonymous said...

Zella is by far my favorite line of fitness wear! Their designs fit flawlessly! I will definitely keep buying! Love Nordstrom's customer service. It doesn't get any better!