March 14, 2022
Lululemon headline retail for athleisure trend last week Between a new category, footwear, which offers both enormous opportunity and increased risk.
In doing so, Lululemon is directly taking on athletic shoe giant Nike as well as other stalwarts such as Skechers, Adidas, Brooks and New Balance.
Additionally, many brands that started out focusing on apparel, such as The North Face, Columbia Sportswear, and Under Armour, have faced long struggles to develop complementary footwear offerings. Neither Foot Locker nor Dick’s Sporting Goods offer private label shoes, despite heavy pressure around private label clothing.
Still, Lululemon has shown its willingness to enter new categories with the launch of the cosmetics and personal care category in 2019 and the acquisition last year of Mirror, the digital home training platform, to enter the connected fitness space.
Luluemon first announced its plans for the shoe space after testing the sale of sneakers and slip-ons from Los Angeles-based performance sneaker brand Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL).
“We’ve tested and learned a lot about shoes and what we’ve learned is: the guest resonates with us by selling shoes,” CEO Calvin McDonald said in 2019. “We believe we’ve identified an opportunity that will unique for us, and unique within the market.
Last week, Lululemon released four different women’s shoes, including shoes for running, cross-training, and post-workout. Prices range between $138 and $148. A men’s collection is in preparation for 2023.
The yoga-themed channel thinks it will benefit from a female-centric approach.
McDonald said in a statement. “We enter the footwear category the same way we built our apparel business – with products designed to address unmet needs, designed for women first.”
“It’s a big deal,” said Matt Powell, senior industry adviser and footwear analyst at NPD. CNN. “This is the first time a major brand has made a sneaker specifically for women. Basically, what brands are selling in this space are smaller versions of men’s shoes. It’s a dirty little secret of the Lululemon builds a shoe from the inside out specifically for women’s feet.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more potential benefits than risks in moving Lululemon into the footwear category? What benefits can Lululemon have and what will be the key to success?
“Lululemon’s move into the footwear category is bold, but risky.”