Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Shopping Trip and Try On Reviews: Principle Jacket, Drishti Bra, & More

I visited my two closest Lululemon stores today. I was hoping to try on the new running Visor but my local stores haven't received it yet. I did buy the new Flight Running Bonnet hat in black.  It covers a lot more of your head than the Distance hat which is slightly bigger than a beanie on me.  The only drawback to this hat is that it is not adjustable, there is just a piece of elastic in back. The hat is very roomy so I can see if your head is smaller it might be too big or if you wear it under very windy conditions you might have trouble keeping it on. Other than that it is the typical Lululemon hat - very light and breathable with a little zipper compartment on top and relfective edging on the brim.  I really like this style, I might have to get another one in Sidewalk gray.
  • Lightweight weather protection for your head keeps you looking good on long runs!
  • Street style fit with short curved brim so it won't blow off when running
  • Wicking fabric with mesh paneling for ventilation
  • Zip pocket secures $ and keys
  • Soft, absorbent and wicking sweatband
  • Write your name on it so you know it’s yours!
  • Machine washable, hang to dry
  • $28
  • Comes in Senorita Pink, Sidewalk gray, and Black
Cool Racerback - Sidewalk

I got the Sidewalk Cool Racerback, too.  This gray is a nice neutral and goes well with Coal and black. I also got a pair of the Featherlight socks for spin. I'll let you know how they worked after my class tomorrow. I am always on the lookout for thin athletic socks since my spin shoes are on the small side.
Principle Jacket
I tried on the Principle Jacket while I was there. I really liked it. It looks very cute hanging open. It's really short but nice if you want something to cover up your shoulders and back if you are wearing a skimpy tank going to and from the gym or on a walk. I thought it fit true to size or even a little on the large side. I definitely had extra room in the shoulers and upper chest but I have narrow shoulders. It has lots of nice details like quilted sections and double layered areas
There is only one tiny pocket than can hold a credit card. I might consider getting it if it gets marked down by $20 or so.
Drishti Bra
I also tried on the Drishti bra. It was an ok bra but nothing special. It comes with an alternative set of narrow satin straps. I put on a Cool Racerback over it to see if the pleats show up and they do. It also comes in a Bold Blue version.
Twisted Headband
I saw the new Twisted Headband. I didn't even bother trying it on, it just looked like it wouldn't stay put on my head. It's a 2.5" strip of luon backed with Cool Mesh and has a single twist in it.

Splatter Stripe Flow Y
I also saw the Splatter Stripe Flow Y. The print is very pretty but I don't think I would like a full length top with the black horizontal stripes. It's really too bad they put stripes in this print.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Q3 Earnings Call Transcript With Christine Day - Interesting

Here are some excerpts from the lululemon athletica third quarter earnings results conference call with Christine Day and some of the company executives. The questions are asked by various analysts:

 F3Q09 (Qtr End 11/01/09) Earnings Call Transcript 

Christine Day: ... The guest is truly responding to our unique product assortment and guest experience. Our focus on new colors and styles delivered weekly creates the scarcity model that drives an immediate guest purchase.[The Scarcity certainly works in my case] This focus combined with an upbeat staff and store environment have proven over and over to be a winning formula.

Our yoga line remains a core revenue driver. Wins include the introduction of increased choices of technical fabric in our tank line and a new, hot yoga line. We also continue to have an incredible reaction to our running line with an expanded line of crop, shorts and outerwear and our running skirt was a runaway hit. Our men’s business continues to grow with new product introductions such as our ripped compression line, more color and technical cloth. Our natural fabric line also continued to perform nicely.

E-commerce now carries our full line of products [Not really, certainly not all color choices are on-line] and we introduced free shipping in October. This drove increased traffic and conversion rates across North America. We continue to enhance the look, feel and performance of our site and to build our online community. To give you a sense of our online presence, lululemon is mentioned every 17 seconds online [by us Facebook fanatics?].

While John will speak to gross margin in detail, as a reminder we took some unique steps over the past year to position our business for the recession without turning to traditional promotions. Basically we added more value to our products such as technical functionality and other key features as well as new fabrics, all without increasing prices. This resulted in helping our sales in the first half of the year but pressuring our gross margin. We also focused our merchandising efforts on pieces that were certain strong selling price points such as layering pieces within our running line and reduced price on some key accessories to drive traffic.

...Our inventory is in very good shape for the fourth quarter. We finished Q3 with total inventory up 6% placing us in great inventory position heading into the holiday season. While we are utilizing air freight as needed, overall improvements in the gross margin due to sourcing initiatives and supply chain initiatives offset much of the impact to gross margin which we have historically felt when we utilized air freight. Also we will be bringing in March and April inventories in early this year due to the Chinese New Year which falls three weeks later in February, affecting shipments for the first quarter. This also allows us to meet additional demand in the fourth quarter without running the risk of having excess fall/winter goods.

...We definitely have seen e-commerce aid traffic to the stores both in the US and Canada because we see the guests pre-shopping off of the site and then going into the stores. But then because we have a scarcity model if they can’t find it at the store they run back and get it online. So we have seen it actually work both ways and as we have created more availability of the full SKU line online. That has definitely increased the number of visits that we have and we have just recently begun sending the shoulder season of items that we maybe move more quickly through in the stores a little longer on the website at full price. That has also really driven the e-commerce business. We feel very good about the cross channel synergy that we have been able to create with that combined with what I spoke to briefly, our social media strategy online creating that community experience has also really driven the business in both the stores and online as well.

...We do product notification so we will announce when we do a new drop of a product. Our click open rate on that is something incredible like 41%. We do know the guests from Facebook spend longer on our average site the total week about 20% and the number of Facebook fans we have we are the number 17 fastest growing on number of fans on Facebook. We have over 130 of our stores and showrooms have Facebook pages. We connect with over 100,000 fans daily.

When we send out those product notifications we see average increases in sales. It can drive over $6,000 in sales when we send one of those out. So since we have gone online we have about 2,000 interactions with fans on our Facebook page each week. [Yeah, but how many of them are unique? A lot of the FB comments are by the same two or three dozen people, I think] So the number of guests directly corresponding and looking at products. It is a pretty phenomenal community reaction. 

Q: I was wondering how the inventory planning and flow was going in the e-commerce business. I was noticing some outages and out of stock in some products and sizes. I am just wondering, it seems like that business is ramping faster than expected and if it will be in a good inventory situation for holiday.

 A: The reality is we do buy for that separately like a large store. It has significantly exceeded our expectations. We have also had to be chasing goods for the e-commerce. The reality that we are in is all channels are up so we are constantly shuffling inventory on a needed basis to all of the channels. That is creating outages occasionally in different items. There are also some we do buy shallowly on the more seasonal merchandise or special edition jackets, etc. that those are outside designs in limited amounts but really keeping in stock on the basics has been our focus. 

...We are basically planning on keeping ivivva a Canadian concept at this point in time and then we would probably next move on e-commerce and then see where the shipping is in the US and then make a determination what we think the demand is. Right now we want to stay focused on building out lululemon stores in the United States. We would consider and are building contingency plans now to turn international on but right now we do ship internationally for regular lululemon items and we have seen growing demand in that area. So we are taking a look at what would it take to do that. But right now we have some very basic functionality improvement site performance that we want to stay focused on before we add some additional complexity. 
Q: Can you tell us approximately what percentage of the consumer is made up of running and where you want to take that over the course of 2010?

 A: Right now we are planning for running to be about 25% of our total penetration so it would be larger than the spend this year. Our yoga business is by far our most important as it still is our core. Running is just an addition and an actual extension of the technical wear that we do. So we would go from about the low teens to that 25% our current rate today is where we planning on being by early next year.

Q: You have really done a great job with the jackets. The lengths seem to be more democratic and flattering. [This was before the Cocoon, Super Tracker, and Principle]I wonder what we should expect to see with your jackets over the next several quarters as far as styling and then I have a follow-up question.

A: Shout out to the design team for that. We spend an inordinate amount of time actually fitting our garments and we use best in the world fabrics which is one of the reasons that they fit. In terms of our silhouettes I think part of the magic going forward of our mix is going to be that we provide long silhouettes for leggings so that you can outfit long over lean. We also have shorter, more slimming jackets that look great in front of our groove pants and then we have something in between. I think it is about the mix because no woman wants to dress the same way every time for her workouts and we have found this is sort of a magic formula. In addition we provide all of the layering pieces that are just a softer line so that they get the right outfit. So that is part of the magic.  

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lastest Upload - Nothing Too Exciting

Lagoon Space Dye Power Y
The latest upload to Lululemon's website was a yawner for me. Nothing made me want to place an order.
Drishti Bra
The new Drishti Bra has a racerback but I can't imagine the front pleats and seaming would sit smoothly under the Cool Racerback. I'll have to try it on to see how comfortable it is, but from looks alone I'm not burning to buy it.

Cool Racerback in Sidewalk
I really like the new color Sidewalk - so calming, sophisticated and understated- but I know it will show perspiration like nobody's business. I would love an Energizer Pullover in this color. I also wouldn't mind seeing a Deep V in this color with monochromatic accents like black or dark gray - no neon!
Modern Racerback in Pima
The Modern Racerback is pretty loose fitting through the abdomen and I don't care for the proportions as much as the Cool Racerback. I'm sure it's really soft and comfortable since it's made of Pima Cotton. I wouldn't mind a tank version of it so I could wear a normal bra. Why is it $3 more than the Cool Racerback which is made of a technical fabric? For the money, I'd probably stick with the Cool Racerbacks.

No Rain No Gain Jacket
I like the clean simple lines of the front of the No Rain No Gain jacket but I'll have to try it on to see how the pleats in the back look on me.  Also, it's $148 which seems a bit steep.

My latest eBay Lululemon purchase:
Snorkel Blue with Gingham Tri Y
I got a smokin' deal on a NWT Tri Y. I really love the Tri-Y for spin and working out on hotter days. They offer good support for larger chests and are very cool to wear because of the open upper back. I also love the iPod pocket. I love any top with an iPod pocket. I think I am going to try to get a few more. There was a very pretty dark puple one called Bruise that I've never seen pop up on eBay. I wish Lululemon would bring this design back.
No new technical tank designs today. Boo. There was a new Heathered Fruity Tootie Pow Pink Deep V uploaded but I swear they already offered that color last year. I'm not a heathered anything fan in luon, though. I also read that this was one of the colors that people have had run on them. There was also a Senorita Pink uploaded in the Sunrise Tank. I've tried the Sunrise on several times and just can't get enthused about that top at full price. All in all a dissapointing upload.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's Going On With Lululemon?

What is up with Lululemon lately? The websites are picked over. There are only 8 different tanks styles currently showing on the US side. To contrast, in January of last year I reviewed the following NEW tanks: Action, Gather V, 3 Set, Scoop Neck, Tri Y, Wrap Tech, and Not So Low. As far as I was concerned, Lululemon was hitting it out of the park -  I bought at least one of each of those tanks. This year, new tanks are trickling out at a extremely slow rate.  What the heck? January is the month when gyms get flooded with New Year's Resolutionists. This is the prime time of year to have a fully stocked website and to be bringing out new designs, when everyone has recommitted to exercise.  

Lululemon also seems to be having some quality control problems. I've been reading multiple comments on the Facebook site and their own website about the dyes in some new garments, from tanks to underwear, not being fixed and staining skin or other clothes when they get wet with perspiration.Others are complaining about some luons pilling very fast and even fading. I personally have not experienced either of these problems but there are numerous reports.

Is Lululemon spreading itself too thin? Are they bringing out too many run products, bottoms, and casual wear jackets at the expense of their core yoga wear? Look at their competitors - Lucy, Athleta, Prana, Zhoba, to name a few - most of them have quite a few more tanks/shirt styles than Lululemon. What kills me is that they don't even have to invent new styles. Just bring back some of the older ones. From shopping on ebay, I know that the Gather V and the 3 Set are new versions of some older tanks. I suspect the issue is that tanks, especially the ones with the higher impact built in bras, are not profitable enough. Look at how many pieces of fabric have to be stitched together to make an Athletic Deep V. It's a great top built to last  but I think the profit margin is much lower on a complicated tank than a pair of simply constructed Wunder Unders. I don't know about everyone else but I buy a lot more tops than pants.  I hope I'm wrong and there is a bunch of great tanks in the pipeline headed our way but I don't think so.

Splatter Stripe Print Flow Y

Finally! A picture of the Flow Y in the Splatter Stripe print. I'd like to see a whole tank in this print but I dunno about the stripes.

Lagoon Space Dye

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cool Ensemble

I love the look of this whole ensemble. The Bold Blue Principle Jacket looks good hanging open with a black tank underneath. Maybe I will try it on.

Better Pic of Lagoon Space Dye

 Power Y in Lagoon Space Dye. I'll try to find a real life photo, too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Women's Hat - Flight Running Bonnet

 Lululemon makes great, lightweight hats. This is the newest, the Flight Running Bonnet. I would think it is around $28.
  • Lightweight weather protection for your head keeps you looking good on long runs!
  • Street style fit with short curved brim so it won't blow off when running
  • Wicking fabric with mesh paneling for ventilation
  • Zip pocket secures $ and keys
  • Soft, absorbent and wicking sweatband
  • Write your name on it so you know it’s yours!
  • Machine washable, hang to dry
  • Sidewalk and Senorita Pink

Photo of Lagoon Space Dye

Not the best light in this photo but this is a Scoop Neck Tank in Lagoon Space Dye with Bold Blue neck. I'll post a better one when I find it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Running Visor & Photo of Messenger Bag

Lululemon has come out with a new running visor. It looks nice. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Here is a good photo of the Messenger bag. You access the main compartment through the flap. I like that all your stuff is very secure.

There is a new Stride Jacket out in the new Splatter Stripe pattern. I don't think I care for the horizontal stripes but I'll have to see the whole print and not pieces of it.

I like the "splatter" part a lot. It reminds me a little of the Pow Wet Rose print from last year:
Another Real Life Photo of the Principle Jacket:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Twisted Headband + Miscellaneous

New Twisted Headband - Circle Mesh & Luon
One of the Canadian Facebook sites had photos of a new headband - the Twisted headband. One side is made of circle mesh and the other luon, both with the logo. I am a headband junkie, I think I have nearly 25 of them. My favorite is the Mesh headband, followed by the Dance headband. The new Twisted headband looks a lot like the Mesh. I hope it is tapered in the back like the Mesh. It's interesting that they put the logo on both sides. I know the Mesh is supposed to be reversible but I never reverse it to the mesh side even when the pattern matches my top. I'll have to keep an eye for this headband in the stores.

Splatter Stripe print
I went to one of my local stores yesterday to see if anything interesting showed up. I was dissapointed and left without buying anything, which is rare for me. I guess I'll have to wait for more of the spring line to show up. I am really looking forward to seeing tanks in the Splatter Stripe print.

I saw the new Faded Zap Cool Racerback. I didn't like it in person as much as I thought I would. I also saw the Senorita Pink embossed manifesto Cool Racerback. The embossing is very subtle, the light has to hit it just right to see it. I liked it a lot but I already have a Senorita Pink Scoop Neck Tank and didn't feel like another top in that color. I saw the Sidewalk Cool Racerback which is a light gray. I liked the color but I wouldn't mind seeing it in another tank with some accent colors to liven it up. I also saw a Swift tank in the new Lagoon color. It looked a lot like last year's Caribe but since I wasn't wearing any Caribe I couldn't tell how it matched up. I'm not a Swift Tank fan but I'd be interested in seeing other tanks in the color. I saw a new color in the Still pant, I think it is heathered coal but I'm not sure Static Dark Classic Sport Gray. The material is very similar to the Static Charcoal (STCH) Stills I bought a month or so ago - shiny, lightweight, silky feeling but a lighter gray version of it.  It looks like this:

I think the new silky luons are great in the looser fitting Still pants. However, they are thinner than regular weight luon and don't have nearly as much stretch. You can do the experiment yourself - try stretching a pair of regular black luon pants and then the Static Charcoal ones. The regular luon will stretch nearly twice as far in all directions. I tried on a pair of Relaxed Fit crops in Static Charcoal and did not like how they felt at all. I also saw the new Messenger bag. It's a nice size, big but not huge. It's very cute and has tons of pockets. I don't think it would make a great gym bag for me because I carry too much stuff but it looks like a nice all around bag. I hope some newer stuff gets uploaded this week or arrives in the stores. I'm kind of bored with what's available right now.

PS - Oh yeah, there is a new space dye - Lagoon Space Dye. It's actually one of the prettier space dyes I've seen - lagoon with some faded zap and others I can't remember. However, I am just not a space dye fan but I might have to check it out again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Principle Jacket - Great Looking....On a Mannequin

The new Principle Jacket looks very cute on this mannequin.  On real women, it's meh...

Although, the back view on this lady is nice...

Too bad they didn't make a whole jacket. It has a nice look from the back.

The Principle Jacket is $108 which seems overpriced for half a jacket. If you're built like a mannequin or Victoria Beckham this jacket will look fabulous on you. For the rest of us, I suspect it'll be a pass.

Can you work on some designing some new TANK tops, now, Lululemon? I need TANK tops to wear when I'm EXERCISING.  You know, EXERCISE. The reason I first walked into your store. I didn't walk in because you were a great JACKET or CASUAL WEAR store. Do you think you might be able to put a little more effort into designing new EXERCISE tanks? And, no, putting out the same Power Y or Sunrise Tank in different colors doesn't count.  Although, would it kill you to put out some new prints and colors in DEEP Vs?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheer Gear is On-line!

USA Remix Hoodie
Lululemon finally uploaded their long-anticipated cheer gear for the Olympics. I'm not a huge Remix hoodie fan since they are overkill for Southern California most of the year and I find them stiff and bulky. However, if the USA design had been compelling I might have bought one. The design is OK, but not worth it for me to shell out $108 plus tax.  If they had added stripes and contrast stitching like the Germany design, I might feel a little different. I also like the white Canadian design.

Germany Hoodie

White Canada

The mittens are kind of cute but are, again, overkill for Southern California. My husband and I are from the East Coast and we smirk at Southern Californians who don mittens when the temps get into the upper 50s.

USA Mittens

I did end up getting the USA hair ties. I figure I can change out the ties on my other jackets. I also got a pin.

The Canadian moose and beaver pin is cute.

The Travel Pooch is cute and useful but no way is it worth $58. Way over-priced. Even the one in loot is overpriced at $34.

Travel Pooch

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hints of Things to Come

Sunrise Tank in Tang Light
The pictures used in the Product Alerts and on Facebook are giving hints on some items that are soon to be in stores. I wish they'd restock the on-line, too.

Move It Messenger Bag and Victory Bag
The Messenger Bag is stinkin' cute. The Victory Duffle is also cute, but looks really big.