Lululemon joins the footwear race with new running shoes
Lululemon, retail’s poster child for the athleisure trend, last week entered a new category, footwear, that offers both a massive opportunity and heightened risks.
In doing so, Lululemon is directly taking on athletic footwear’s giant Nike as well as other stalwarts such as Skechers, Adidas, Brooks and New Balance.
Moreover, many brands that have started with an apparel focus, such as The North Face, Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour, have faced long struggles developing complementary footwear offerings. Neither Foot Locker nor Dick’s Sporting Goods offer private label footwear, despite major pushes around in-house apparel brands.
Yet, Lululemon has shown a willingness to enter new categories with the launch of cosmetics and personal care category in 2019 and last year’s acquisition of Mirror, the at-home digital workout platform, to enter the connected fitness space.
Luluemon first announced its plans for the footwear space after testing the sale of trainers and slip-ons from Los Angeles-based performance sneaker brand Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL).
“We tested and we learned a lot on footwear and what we learned is: The guest resonates with us selling footwear,” said CEO Calvin McDonald in 2019. “We believe we’ve identified an opportunity that will be unique to us, and unique within the marketplace.”
Last week, Lululemon released four different women’s shoes, including ones for running, cross-training and post-workout. Prices range from $138 and $148. A men’s collection is in the works for 2023.
The yoga-themed chain believes it will benefit from a women’s-first approach.
Mr. McDonald said in a statement. “We are entering the footwear category the same way we built our apparel business — with products designed to solve unmet needs, made for women first.”
“This is a big deal,” NPD’s senior industry advisor and footwear analyst Matt Powell told CNN. “This is the first time a major brand is making a sneaker specifically for women. Basically what the brands sell in this space are smaller versions of men’s shoes. This is a dirty little secret of the industry. Lululemon is building a shoe from the inside out uniquely designed for women’s feet.”
- Lululemon Reveals First-Ever Footwear Collection — Made for Women First – Lululemon
- Lululemon jumps into the footwear business – CNN
- Lululemon launches into footwear as it seeks to take on industry giants like Nike, Adidas – CNBC
- Lululemon Reveals Its First-Ever Women’s-Focused Footwear Collection — and Performance Is Key – Footwear News
- Lululemon is banking on a new product: Shoes – The Boston Globe
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more potential benefits than risks in Lululemon’s move into the footwear category? What advantages may Lululemon have and what will be key to finding success?