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?


Anonymous said...

So little for guys in terms of new and fun tights in 2016. If we could have just 10% of the prints and colours that women get it would be great. Let's hope for 2017! Peter

Sara said...

That lace CRB might have been THE WORST product I've ever purchased from Lulu. I bought it on WMTM and had an absolute fit to return it. The sizing was way off—about four inches wider than a normal CRB. And it didn't wick sweat. I went from a run in it, and it was like running in a cotton T-shirt. Maybe I got a dud.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Dottie Tribe becomes a favorite for the year pretty much sums up the lack of cool patterns for Lulu this year. It would not have even made the top 10 back in 2011,2012 etc

Pamela said...

Thanks for the review. I agree it was a sad year. No true "have to have" winter items which is usually my favorite Lulu season. Black swiftly is definitely in my top 10, too. Bought the tank, short sleeve and long sleeve. Wear them all the time! And I agree with the Pace Rival Crops too. My favorite go to crops to work out in. The other two favorites for me was the Trapeze Twist in Pima Cotton. Bought two in black, one in white and one in grey. So comfy to work out in. Modest in the front and fun in the back. Shows off those fun sports bras. And I get tons of compliments on that top. Also, I'd like to add to your H2O favorite with the H2O speed shorts. I play a lot of volleyball and just started stand up paddle boarding this past summer and these are perfect for those activities! Thanks again for all you do. Happy New Years!!!

Anonymous said...

Your question as to what we are hoping to see out Lululemon in 2017, my first thought had nothing to do with clothing but rather "who" I would like to see out of Lululemon, but I won't go there.

I don't really have any favourites for new product in 2016. What I would love to see OUT of LLL this year would be, out with cinched waisted jackets, pleats, cheap designs, huge armholes. What I would love to see in 2017 is a comeback of classics, more tailored jackets, more choices for shorts with inseams 4-6", using Swiftly fabric in new designs for tops and tanks with some added detail and more COLOUR, COLOUR, COLOUR.

Anonymous said...

2016 was horrible for Lulu. My purchase list includes: Dottie Tribe WUPs, Pink Paisley HTPs, Rio and Blurry Belle Speeds. Period. I've spent roughly $500/month in years past with the dollar amount slowly tapering off. Gone are the over $1000 panic orders (FOMO). I fear no Lulu losses anymore. The lust and luster is gone. Bye Lulu. My life is so much more focused on what's actually important now... Living life in its crazy adventures that it gives me. Thank you, Lulu, for giving me my life back! I'm forever grateful! :) ;P

Unknown said...

Would love to have some recommendations of other brands to try....?

Anonymous said...

LOVE everything you have said! Amen sister! I find myself always on eBay searching for vintage pieces that have ruffles & detailing that are non-existent today!!! Those details are what made me notice lululemon years and years ago. Let's hope something will change for the better in the future :) Great job on your blog and keep up to good work!

Anonymous said...

My favourites for 2016 include the rush hour jacket (marked down to $99), the rush hour 1/2 zip (I bought black at full price and chilled grape for $69), the Yogi Everyday tank (bought 3 colours,Train On Rain On jacket from January 2016. I was very pleased I snatched up a couple pair of brushed speeds on markdown from last season as well! I also added to my Tracker Short collection- happy to see some great prints as well as solids like darkest magenta and a navy blue.

Anonymous said...

I hope you do your list of worst designs of the year for 2016, it will be such a gold mine!

Janae said...

Agreed, it was so wide! Very disappointing

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the review! I personally prefer dark and muted colors. I love Dusted Mauve, Nocturnal Teal, Grayvee, Carbon. I can't recall know the name of sea mist-like green they came up with in august . I got Essentisl tank in it and was hoping for Speeds, but nope. I'm still spending tons of money on lulu, but I also wear it casually . I'm really liking that they are making more Full on Luxtreme bottoms. The new fabric content is compressive and very smooth. I'm in the minority on this blog, but I also don't mind CRBII. My only beef is that they could make the back part a tad wider and maybe not so bulky. Otherwise I like the new length and ne k line better that CRBI. I also liked Spacer fabric for jackets and bought two styles. I wish they would make more dresses. I wore Power Date last night to a party and got lots of complements. I also own Here to there in two colors and always hear people asking where I bought it .

Custom Baby Boutique said...

My favs:
Outrun crewnecks (got 4 colors!) and outrun 1/4 zips, all pace rivals, run times in the hot pink/black paisley, blooming pixies on wmtm were a nice Christmas gift for myself. I'm hoping for some more technical pieces for 2017 for actual working out!
Athleta and Nike are my favs other than lulu. And the Victoria's Secret knockout tights are a dupe of the all the right places crops and pants, thick and wonderful for a lot cheaper if you can catch them on sale!

Anonymous said...

I didn't buy that much this year compared to other years. I actually didn't understand the hype over the black swiftly. Lol! I bought maybe 10 items over the whole year (a huge drop from my old level of purchasing) and most I waited for MD price.

My fave purchases this year:

Blurry Belle speeds. These seemed so plain initially but have really become my go to pair that I grab for a lot. Not sure why but amongst my well over 50+ prs of speeds this is in my top fave.

Everyday Tote. I picked this up after it languished on the WMTM site for awhile (hoping for a price drop). I got the lace patterned one with the gorgeous red interior. A week later it was pulled of WMTM and haven't seen it again. Glad I got it in time. It's become my most used gym bag as well as my go-to daily tote for those crazy busy days when I need a bunch of stuff like water bottle, jacket, return/exchanges on stuff etc. Holds it all effortlessly.

Pace Rivals - I need more but didn't buy any of the offerings this year except for a pair I picked up in Australia. Glad too since they never came to N.A. and they are the first pair I grab for now.

Sleet Sprinter Jacket - this jacket has become my go-to jacket for everyday. The styling and fit remind of old Lulu. I feel like this is a sleeper hit. Mostly due to the original price of $228 being so high on it. I picked it up on MD and it's an amazing jacket

Lace CRB - also my fave. I picked up another when it went to WMTM. I love the more singlet feeling fabric and the looser fit of this tank. It's my go-to grab for every run/workout. I find it constantly being washed so I can wear it again. I wish they more than the 3 colors.

What I miss: regular vinyasa's, original CRB, DSC's, cute ruching on the speed tights.

Re-works I like:

Scuba III (haven't tried the IV yet). Finally a scuba with a bit extra length and not so tight fit. Love the new fit of it vs my scuba II's. I'm a fan.

Sculpt tank II - love my original sculpt tanks and love the rework. Glad to see the hole is gone and like the new styling of it. I found the new version to be a size down like the old one on me

DSPII - I like the new modern cut but haven't bought any because I'm tired of the rolling waistband issue. My old DSP/DSC's don't have a rolling waistband and have a much more substantial feel. The pants in the stores new are already rolling in some cases. Until they fix this I won't be buying any no matter how much I like them.

I'd say all in all it wasn't an eventful year for lulu. Everything got boxy, short, cropped, boring and monochrome in color. Most of my athletic purchase $$$ went to other brands this year. Got a couple UA pieces that are amazing, Athleta knocked it out of the park this year as well. I'm happy to have other brands in my rotation now actually and love mixing them up and being able to bank quite a bit of money this year. The lulu addiction is officially broken.

c w said...

my favorite piece this year was the minimalist leotard. i wear it at least once a month, if not once a week! i wish i had bought a back up and i hope the style returns in another color (but not likely). the other short-unitard came in a print but was an unflattering fit plus did not have a built in bra.

LuluAddict said...

@Pamela - I just bought the cotton Trapeze Twist tank in black on Friday with my Xmas gift card. I think the fit is better than the seriously light luon version.

@ anon 6:40 am - Totally agree.

@ anon 6:42 am - I'm sure you are one of many who went from hundreds a month to near zero this year.

@ anon 9:44 am - I didn't really keep track of the bad designs this year. It was tough enough trying to pick out the good designs for this year - probably the worst year ever.

@ anon 9:58 am - I've grown to like the Spacer fabric in my Insculpt jackets a lot but they keep making jackets in the same three colors -navy, heathered black, and light gray. There are only so many of those colors I can use and I have all three in the Insculpt.

@Custom Baby Boutique - Yeah, I think a lot of people are turning to Athleta and Nike now.

@ anon 11:28 am - I bought one of the first run Scuba IIIs and liked it since it was super soft but it wasn't as thick and warm as the old Scuba IIs. Then they red-did the fabric on the Scuba III so it was thicker but it became scratchy and stiffer so I didn't get anymore. I hate the fit on the Scuba IV, it's way too tight on my upper arms now.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather see all black items than straight to WMTM, phone-it-in WTF graphics and I haven't found anything that matches Lulu's quality (even in its present form). UA and Nike just don't get it. Old Navy isn't bad at first but doesn't hold up and the pockets are too small. Gap start sliding down as I sweat. Costco has gone right to cr'p. So I keep shopping Lulu...

Best purchases: original CRBs, Stuff Your Bras, and Run Times.
Ones that got away: Splatter Reflective All Sport Bra and Splatter Reflective All Day Duffel.

Also, Seawheeze seemed to also be phoned in this year.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review, LLA!
I have two Lace CRBs and I wear them each at least once a week - love them! I hardly bought anything this year - might be the least I have purchased in any year, and I'm a customer from way back when the only place to shop was a tiny hole-in-the-wall showroom - i.e. years and years. Even the markdowns didn't tempt me - I had to remind myself that I didn't want those items at full price, and that I shouldn't buy them even if they were on "sale".

I will say I loved the Ready and Go tank - I bought two of them and they were a fave during the summer. Being short, I couldn't wear any of the other flowy tanks because the backs always came down too low - but the Ready and Go has great support and worked perfectly for me.

Also I can't live without my Strap It Like It's Hot bras - but I'm not sure if they came out in 2015 or 2016. My hopes are they bring the SILIH bras back - as well as return to their previous feminine styles with vibrant greens and pinks in solids and great patterns. A girl can dream...

Anonymous said...

Lululemon actually saved me a ton of money this year by revamping the CRB, Sculpt tank, Studio pants and Crops...those are my staples, and I have more than enough. Hate the redesign of all of them.

With the blacks and greys on the uploads, I had a hard time seeing what was actually "new", and really miss COLOR! Also missed the nice soft heathered terry pullovers that I seem to need in every color each year...those fabric blends of yore wear so well, and never fade. Almost every pullover I tried this year was black or grey and if it was soft, it was a black that would fade...otherwise it was a blend with little stretch and boxy fit. So grateful for my "old" Lulu clothes :)

I would love to see a "Worst of 2017" post LLA...don't forget the Purrsuit Onesie, lol.

Happy New Year everyone!

Anonymous said...

Where have all the yoga pants gone?? I am far too old and conservative to wear tights! I don't understand why they would eliminate my age group of loyal customers. As an over-50 Lulu lover, they've lost me :(
I am truly disappointed.

Anonymous said...

No real favourites for me this year, they got rid of all that I loved! Still hoping and wishing to see things turn around for 2017.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with you, LLA. You are completely on point with the good and bad. My LLL love is also on life support (you might not know it from my list!). I've been very, very selective in the past few years.

Thank you for your blog and keeping us informed.

Apparently this was a Swiftly year for me. I purchased more Swiftly tops this year than in any other year(s) of my approximately 10 years of shopping LLL. I only buy ones that really strike me and there usually aren’t so many in one year:

- Heathered Jungle Green LS. I feel like we have waited SO LONG for a true, deep green. I wish we would see more of this type of green.
- Black/Black Swiftly in LS, SS, tank. I wear the LS and the SS all the time. I love them! The tank does not get worn very much; I’m a CRB (original) woman at heart.
- Black/Red Olympic SS (Canada).
- Brave Olive LS. Definitely an all time favourite.
I sucked up the increased prices for the Black/Red & Brave Olive Swiftlies.

I also purchased the Heathered Military Green Rest Less LS (actually got it on MD, yay) I love this version and also the two I have from prior years (heathered black & heathered berry rumble). This is a go to shirt for me.

- Space Dye Camo Alberta Lake Fresh Teal vinyasa scarf
- FTBW in heathered seal grey/heathered battleship
- Dottie Tribe and Blurry Belle speed shorts. I had to hunt down the BB ones even though my city has several stores. I did a few over the phone orders this year and all were great experiences, fabulous service (I'm in Toronto, Ontario).

I am well stocked for LLL bottoms (run, yoga, to-and-from) so I have not purchased any crop or pant bottoms in the past 2-3 years. For anything I am sometimes interested in, reviews are usually not good (i.e. poor quality). Or, I find the increased prices too much to stomach. Most often I dislike the print, that there’s too much mesh, or the lack of functionality (e.g., no pockets, no back zip pocket; instead, outside waistband open pockets) so I just kind of stopped looking at the bottoms. I’m a hardcore runner so I won’t compromise on quality, function, and comfort, especially with increased prices.

Outside of the above, mainly original CRB (full price or MD), FTB and FTBW bras on MD before the prices were increased, thus the decent, old MD prices. I usually check wmtm a fair bit but since there was very little new stock I was interested in throughout the year, there was really no need to check wmtm. I did, but sparingly. I didn’t even order anything for the Boxing Day sale. I will tune into the forthcoming warehouse sale but am not really expecting that much from it.

Unknown said...

Life support...I can barely hear the beep..beep...beep.

Anonymous said...

These are the reasons why I'm liking Aimn and other aussie and Brazilian companies. My husband loves the g-string look on the Aimn. I live my lulu, but changes are needed. It's getting very stale.

Anonymous said...

I looked at aim'n for all of a minute. The first, immediate dislike is that "ami'n" is huge and emblazoned on everything. I would never buy any of it for this reason alone. Otherwise, it's all very generic looking. As for the "g-string" look on some of the items, it is not classy.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how Lulu patterns work but I saw a dress with the Dottie tribe pattern at Sears today..weird

janine57 said...

Cozy up Buttercup jacket!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just like how they seemed to have sold the blooming pixie print to some other retailer! L-A-M-E! If I'm buying Lulu I don't want to see copycat prints in other brands!!

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 8:52 pm - I hate that, too!!

Sassy2424 said...

My biggest disappointment this year ......... the missing bags from online!! Your paying more and personally the reason I stay is the excellent customer service and the extra touches like bags, shipping, etc.