Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lululemon 2014: A Year In Review

Happy Holidays!! Merry Christmas!! 

This list is only as comprehensive as my memory allows, but I've gone through my past posts in hunt of memorable pieces and design concepts and I've come to the conclusion that this has been a pretty stellar year for the Lululemon core customer. Yes there were some flops this year (there always are, there always will be), but overall I feel like every piece of feedback that customers have been giving as far as product has been executed this year. Give us more prints! give us jewel tones! give us more interesting neutrals! give us opaque pants! Bring back our favourites! Give us some exciting new designs we have no idea exist but we want! Doneskis!

Prints! Right away in January we saw a huge increase in interesting vibrant prints in Cool Racerbacks, Run Inspire Crops, Roll Down Wunder Under Crops and Scuba Hoodies. Lululemon has always been master of creating beautiful none conventional floral prints and I was definitely a huge fan of Secret Garden Print (the floral scuba hoodie below). It seemed that every other post on instagram for #Lululemon during the spring was of Secret Garden or Camo. Camo was so huge when it came out that it sold out within minutes and crashed the website. I think it's so great that Camo has been brought back now a few times and in subtle variations such as black denim camo, pink camo, and now blue camo. 

Probably my favourite prints of the year where the Japanese inspired watercolor floral 'Inky Floral Ghost' and all the different Sashiko variations. I did also really like Secret Garden which was a huge hit all over Instagram but the theme of the Sashiko items was really great. 

For a while there, we had tons of great Cool Racerback Tanks in awesome colors and heathered colors. Bruised Berry, WAFS Jewelled Magenta, Heathered Coal, Heathered Opal, Heathered Blue Calm, Heathered Earl Grey, Bumbleberry, Rich Earth. Lots of unusual colors this year as well. I'm looking forward to seeing more Cool Racerbacks this spring after the lull this winter.

Unusual Colors
The Unusual Suspects! I was incredibly happy to see Fuel Green, Deep Forest, Rich Earth and Heathered Branch this year, and of course Earl Grey and Fatigue Green. These are such unusual colors for Lululemon that even though they are technically 'new', I classify them as retro Lulu comebacks because it has literally been since at least 2009 for brown, and probably even later for a jewelled tone green like Fuel. We've had Wren Green before but it was so muted compared to Fatigue Green.  Bumbleberry was a pretty unusual lululemon color but not quite as unusual as deep green and brown. I only wish we had gotten a solid and heathered Fuel Green Cool Racerback because it really felt like that was missing from the lineup. Now that the color is gone I am sad I didn't get the Fuel Green Scuba Hoodie.  Good job, color guy!! You've pulled us out of the neon pink and yellow rut!

Oh the beautiful dresses that happened this year!! I think it all started with the &Go concept line which was gym to office to dinner wear, and separate mixable pieces focusing on street style vs. gym style. The big hit from that lineup was the Here To There Dress which had a couple of releases this year due to popularity and then later we got the Refresher Racer Dress, Power Date Dress (another hit), the Anytime Dress. All these dresses have sold out within hours, and at most a few days. Many people resorted to ebay and other venues to get their hands on the Here To There Dress. 

Lots of old designs made a comeback this year based on feedback Lululemon received on HeyLululemon. The Stride Jacket got voted up by a landslide for a remake and won over the Savasana Wrap (conspiracy!! how many accounts where opened up just to vote multiple times?) and in the end the Stride Jackets flopped in store but the Savasana Wraps sold out instantly. I was surprised to see the Define make a comeback in so many colorways since I hadn't heard any rumours until the week before that it was being released and I almost always hear about these things months in advance.  Those are selling well in store despite the multiple color options.

Mesh Inserts and High Waisted Pants
Two huge legging trends this year that were big sellers where mesh insert pants and high waisted pants. I think I've dabbled in all these styles and have sworn off low rise Wunder Unders. The Tech Mesh Tights and later Tech Mesh High Times Pant just flew off stores shelves and sold out instantly online, and featured heavily on Instagram. Roll Down Wunder Under where a hit for me because it smoothes out my mommy tummy and gives the illusion of flat washboard abs underneath a cool racerback. Whoever invented the Roll Down needs a giant bonus for Christmas.

Natural Fabrics: Cotton, Modal, Wool
In the last half of 2012, and all of 2013, Lululemon pretty much disappeared most of the cotton/pima lineup. That was a terrible mistake since cotton tees should be a core piece for any activewear brand. Who doesn't repeatedly buy 'the perfect tee' in multiple colors? That is an easy sell and a no brainer! Cotton got really expensive though and lulu was being very thrifty in 2013 and so they relied on polyester blends for their tee shirts instead of cotton, weird crop designs and burnout material instead of reliable, breathable and durable cotton in basic flattering cuts. Thank god the cotton is back! I've stocked up on so many cotton styles this year, the Love Tee which is beautiful, the Yogini 5 Year Long Sleeve - everytime I'd see one slightly marked down because it was a last stray size I would snatch it up. The Movement Hoodie was great because it's a nice thin cotton jersey. Cotton Roll Down Wunder Unders where ingenious this year. They really have no usefulness for working out in but they are so much nicer than sweat pants.

Modal had a moment as well in the Serenity Hoodie, Pant and Mudra Tank. I got all three of the Mudra Tank colors on markdown and wore them all summer long. It is one of my favourite casual tanks for summer!

The Merino Wool this year has been amazing. Wool is something that I normally cannot wear (except always on my feet) due to extreme itching, and last years wool was horrible for me, and it was cropped. This year, the knit is plush and soft and very wearable.  the Wrap It Up Sweater is one of my best Winter purchases and most worn. If it is a dry cold day out, my Wrap It Up Sweater is my jacket. I got my first one at full price and then ended up getting another marked down on Black Friday. 

 Insulated Jackets and Vests.
My other favourite item this year was the Chilly Chill Puffy Vest. I drove all over town hunting for a store that had all the colors that I could try on. The fit of this vest and styling was perfect for me with the cuffed hem and cute reversible colors and prints.  I know a lot of people loved the Fluffed Up Vest and others really loved the Chilly Chill Puffy Vest, both where very brisk sellers in stores. Lululemon experimented with blending polyester and down for the Fluffed Up Jacket/Vest but I much prefer the full down jackets as they are much softer and lighter weight. The blends may be warmer though. I slightly regret not buying the Pigment Fluffed Up Jacket but the fit wasn't that great on me and by the time I'd gone back to give it a second consideration they were all sold out. 

The 'Flops'
I hesitate to call these flops because although the majority of blog readers and facebook group users may unanimously agree that these were flops for the more conventional shopper, I find that sometimes there is a vacuum in these groups that doesn't always represent what is actually happening in stores. Even between Instagram and Facebook there is a huge difference in what is trending. These pieces are very fashion forward, and experimental, and they do resonate with some shoppers who rock these styles in amazing outfit combinations that mere mortals cannot conceive of. Just take a gander at the Guest Etc. blog, or look at Instragram pictures under #lululemon and you will see some great outfit combinations. That being said, the Tranquility Jacket did get marked down to $19 at one point and these items are usually guaranteed for markdowns as they are not universally appealing. The main theme of these 'flop' pieces is convertible, reversible, multi use, multi context sportswear pieces. Do we even need those options? why not just buy three separate pieces that all provide each function? 

Tranquility Jacket, Quickchange Vest, All She Wants Vest, Cocoon Car Coat

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