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.
 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

i agree about the QC issues. I have the All Out Tank in Senorita Pink and the color bled onto my white remix hoodie when I wore it to the gym. I tried washing the tank in cold water, and it turned the water pink. I have Lulu tanks from a year or two ago and haven't had any issues before.

Anonymous said...

I pulled an old Lulu sweater out of closet the other day (approx 3-4 years old) and I was shocked at how heavy it was! The fabric seems so much better on the older stuff. With that said the Facebook/ On-line crowd seems to eat up anything posted on the website..however lately they seem to do so and then turn around and return it or sell it. I'm not overly familiar with these other lines you mentioned but all I know is that if they have good on-line and decent shipping prices I'd be willing to take my business elsewhere. I have even noticed that the Joe Fresh athletic line (sold at GROCERY STORES in Canada) has some really cute and unique Yoga wear at prices that can't be rivalled ($8 t-shirts, $14 tanks). Initially I was very impressed with the run line, but I wore my purple Run Spirit pull over for the first time yesterday and after wearing it once noticed that the fabric looks warn out in the front from where my MP3 holder rubbed on it. I'm disappointed cause the top cost me $118!

I appreciate your blog, and agree with you totally!

erica said...

my wunder unders started pilling 2 hours after i bought them last summer. apparently i can't sit on the couch or bedcover, which makes no sense if elim is able to wear hers every day for a month! maybe hers are from the earlier days.

there is no excuse for color bleeding when you're paying $40-50 for a tank! i would expect this from Old Navy or Target, not Lululemon. maybe it's time to give Atleta a try. too bad since i'm obsessed with Lululemon.

Norah said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Off late it seems that its just gone from bad to worse and i their silly attempt to make jackets and other items - they are straying away from their main product.

I recd 2 generous giftcards from xmas totally to about $430 but I havent used either. What annoys me the most is that it seems like they're growing too fast and not staying true to the things that made them popular.

Just to torture myself in Dec I ran a report off my paypal & visa and learnt that I over the past few years I've probably spent more than 4.5-5k on their clothing [i know crazy eh?] Sadly as for now - if weird stripe splatter is all they've got to offer me - my $$ and I are heading elsewhere

p.s. i had some of their underwear bleed on me too - that was the last straw

BakerGirl said...

They are definitely being slow right now... However, I have noticed that alot of retail chains are not carrying the stock they once did. I wonder how the American economy is treating them right now?

shopaholic said...

I definitely agree with the quality that is going downhill. I own few pairs of wunder under crop, and during recent trip to New York, I just bought the cotton one. Within 3 hours or wearing and walking, it was peeling out really really bad. I was extremely disappointed.

On the other hand, I used to go crazy with any lululemon jackets. I have lots of them (sometimes I got different colors for hte same style). Surprisingly, since October, I had only purchased 3 outerwear. I went to one of the store yesterday, and I found no outerwear for me to buy or wish to buy. This is odd for me.

Marci said...

Thanks for posting this, your blog is the best because you are so honest.
I've experienced piling on my run Spirit and Run Race pullover... and I always wash them in cold, hang to dry.

houndlvr67 said...

I have noticed a decline in both the quality of the luon and the cotton products. I have Groove pants from two years ago that look better than the ones that I bought last year. I remember somebody on Facebook asked about the thinner luon, and Lulu answered by saying that it was an improvement in fabric technology and that it produced a better wicking pant...RIGHT! NICE SPIN LULU! The Scuba hoodies from 3 years ago hold up better and are made of a thicker bonded fleece than the current Remix. I have a RUN: Swiftly in POW pink that bled at the gym on my towel AFTER washing.
AND I am NOT paying $100 for something that looks like a glorified "Snuggie" that fades, and the snaps are sewn on poorly.
I bet there has been a "shake-up" in the buying department AND in the design department. I really want the old Lulu back...

Anonymous said...

I have to agree on the QC issues. I was introduced to Lululemon back in 2007 when the original Paddingtons & Houndstooth scubas hit. I pulled out my Houndstooth recently and was so shocked that my 3 year old hoodie looked newer than my Remix! Same experience with the technical stuff. I recently bought a Stride & Competition jacket. Within 2 wears (and we're talking about casual wear!) it started piling!!! For $100+ I definitely expect better. As a stockholder, I'm growing more weary. Again, thank you LuluAddict for pointing this out!! Love your blog :)

Anonymous said...

Not one comment that defend the QC issues. You know I have to agree, I have been buying from the company since it's earliest years and quality has def gone down hill. I only buy basics now and treat them like fragile glass bowls as not to wreck them after 1 wear. So much for "testing" the stuff for durability. I have been scoping out all the other toga sites lately because Lulu has nothing I want to buy. If I was them reading this blog I would be a little worried. i know they have a huge following but people don't stay dumb to stuff like this forever. Also, it seems like the customer service is going down as well from what I've read the FB page. Too bad.

LuluAddict said...

@Anon at 6:34 pm - I also treat my Lululemon very tenderly. I have a front loader machine that I set on handwash, I wash in cold only with other Lululemon and I turn everything inside out to help prevent pilling and fuzziness. I hang dry everything, even my cotton light remixes and Wear With All jacket. I put my running luon items in a mesh bag (even when washing on handwash setting) because they seem to fuzz up very easily. I also use mesh bags on the lullure and luxtreme tops because they pill (or fuzz) easily if they rub against something.

LuluAddict said...

RE: thinner luon. I think you have to let your fingers be your guide. I swear some of the luons, which are not identified as anything other than regular weight luon, are thicker than others. For instance, I recently tried on the Groove pants with the Lithograph Iris and white top band. The luon on those pants felt noticeably thinner and didn't stretch the same as my other pants. If I wasn't in a Lululemon store, I would have thought they might be fakes. I passed on buying them. I also tried on Grooves with the older green tartan band and that luon felt normal weight. I think the luon used might depend on what factory the pants were made in.

The only pants I've had a really bad pilling issue with were Teak brown original Relaxed Fit crops from a couple of years ago. I wore them something like 3x and they pilled like crazy - on the inside of the waistband where they only rubbed on my skin! I sold them. I happened to also have a pair of Teak brown Still pants. The luon on the Relaxed Fits were noticeably thinner than the Still even though the tag didn't say anything different. From that experience I try to stay away from thinner luon pants. That is one of the reasons I don't like the Wunder Unders. The luon feels thinner than regular pants. For full price, I won't take that chance. OTOH, the luon in the new Energize pant is normal, heavy feeling luon and so I bought them.

I know I have written very positively about the new Static Charcoal luon Stills. I love how they feel BUT they are very thin feeling luon. I don't think I would take a chance on buying that fabric in a pair of pants that is going to get a lot of wear and tear (at full price, anyway). That luon just feels like it might pill up. I baby those pants, wear them sparingly, and take them off as soon as I get home. I might be wrong, but for $98 pants, I prefer to be safe.

To protect myself I try to buy as much stuff as I can on major markdown or off eBay. That way I don't feel so bad when quality isn't perfect. I know you can't always do that when you want black Grooves or Stills but the older colors sometimes go on sale. I know people are paranoid about fakes but I've gotten great deals - $35 NWT black Boogie crops for example - from people who I'm pretty sure were yoga studios going out of business. Lululemon itself had heathered charcoal Still crops for $35 on the Loot page. So, bargains can be found you just have to be scouting for them all the time. I also have a very larger Lululemon wardrobe so most of my items don't get worn too much and I try to keep washing to a minimum and on hand wash setting.

I haven't experienced any dye bleeding issues but now that I am aware of the richer pinks bleeding I am going to be on the lookout. I bought a Senorita Pink Scoop Neck tank off eBay but it was from last summer. The dye issues seem to be a very recent thing.

LuluAddict said...

One last comment, even with intermittent quality issues popping up, I still think Lululemon offers a superior product to their competition. I am just really frustrated with the lack of variety in offerings in technical tanks, both in style and color. I think the variety is probably the smallest since I started buying Lululemon over the past 3 years.

erica said...

i showed a shopgirl my heavily pilled black wunder unders, and her first comment was, they must be defective. and then after a few more questions about laundry (they pilled before i even washed them), she said that you can't put cotton next to them. so, um, are they defective or is this normal?

anyway, i bought a pair of wunder grooves in static dark classic sport grey, which is thinner and more silkier, because i thought maybe they wouldn't pill as much. but maybe i should return them for the black. i wish there was more consistency! hopefully i can find the energize in a store. i don't like the longer length because i have a 31" inseam, but i could always have them hemmed...

i still love lululemon, but for the price points, the dye shouldn't bleed, and the fabric shouldn't pill after 1-2 wears.

LuluAddict said...

@ erica - I don't know about returning your static charcoal wunder unders. I checked the gusset area of my static stills and they do have some roughness but no real pilling. It is very hard to see with that pattern anyway. I think the slickness might help, it's just that the material seems so thin I think of it as being flimsier. On the other hand, I do love my Energize pants.

erica said...

thanks for advice! i was hoping that the pattern would hide the pilling, if it happened. i'm going to check the store for the energize pants, just in case.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar concern about the energize pants and having a short inseam....would love someones input as to if there will be too much material at the bottom. These pants are designed for 35" inseam (I believe) and my inseam is 4 inches shorter than that....that's a lot of extra material on the bottom!

LuluAddict said...

@ Anon 1:31 pm - I'm 5'5" and left the Energize pants alone - for now. I polled people on Facebook and everyone replied they left them alone and these were women shorter than me. The extra fabric almost acts as defacto leg warmers - my calves have never been so warm.