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

    Nordstrom

    (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.