We’re here to talk about whether you should buy Lululemon. Should you? Well that depends. An indisputable fact is that you don’t need expensive clothes to go for a run or do pushups. A $60 shirt will not help you squat more weight; a $75 tank-top will not speed up your bike pedals. Lululemon, for better or worse, knows this. But it also knows that those who take training and working out seriously will settle for nothing less than the highest-quality of gear available, while also looking good. Lululemon promises to be both.
“When we think about the guy we are appealing to, he is confident—he doesn’t have to look or be like everyone else—he’s very self-aware,” says Felix Del Toro, senior VP of Lulu’s men’s design. “So the goal here is to give [guys] a product that does a variety of things that’s based upon versatility in performance and so he can still look good when he’s working out.”
This of course comes at a price. Lululemon’s menswear, built to be versatile, is for consumers to feel like they can run, lift weights, ride a bike, play softball, or even swim in, say, a single pair of shorts.
“It’s product that spans all the things we think the modern guy does,” VP Schweitzer says. Our guy has a personal trainer, he goes and plays pickup basketball, or he’s in men’s league hockey. Not all athletic gear out there has the same breadth.”
To create such a garment takes time. It takes the right fabric. It takes the right amount of testing. It takes some of the smartest designers in the country to build. In short: it’s expensive to make, therefore it’s expensive to sell.
“We have a very focused target on who he [the target consumer] is, what he does, what he makes,” Del Toro says. “There is absolutely a focal point of, ‘We think he is X-age, he makes roughly X-amount.”
Those X numbers? Del Toro says the guy is likely aged in his mid-30’s, and notes: “We know we’re not inexpensive,” he says. “You have to be at a certain point in your life to say, ‘I’m going to invest in quality and invest in myself,’ so that’s how we look at the conversation with him.”
Quantify however you see fit; income levels mean different things in different parts of the country. Here, then, are a few admittedly enormous generalizations that Lululemon may not disagree with:
1) Are you 23-years-old, just out of college, broke, and taking a temp job in New York City? Perhaps skip the Lululemon store, for now, and make sure you stay fed.
2) Are you 29-years-old, just got your first bonus after a big year of sales and you live with your girlfriend in the Washington D.C. suburbs? Go ahead, maybe treat yourself to a Lululemon workout shirt that your friends would likely disapprove of.
3) Are you 38-years-old, own your own tech startup and sit in board meetings a few times a week? Go on in, dude.
But another question lingers. How do you get men to wear women’s clothes?