• Anne Heaney, Director

Lululemon Launches High-end Streetwear Brand Lab

For the last decade, Lululemon has been quietly tinkering with a luxury streetwear label called Lab. The $3.8 billion sportswear giant first piloted the concept in 2009, opening a store in Vancouver. Then, over the last three years, it opened two more Lab stores in New York. But today, Lab hits prime time: The newest 44-piece collection will be available online and at 45 stores across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Lab will exist as a separate brand from Lululemon, one that is both more expensive—items range from $80 to more than $500, prices that run approximately 30% higher than existing Lululemon products—and more exclusive, given that it will only be available at about 10% of Lululemon stores.

Lab’s new collection has a distinct design perspective: Everything is pared down to its essence, conveying industrial-tinged minimalism.

One example is a $218 white monochrome women’s jumpsuit with a baggy silhouette, cargo pockets, and buckles—it looks like it could be worn by a modern-day Rosie the Riveter. Then there’s a $148 black collar-less men’s shirt that lacks any other seams or details. “We’re focused on what is essential about the garment, stripping back and simplifying,” says Ben Stubbington, senior VP of men’s design, who led the design of Lab.

The collection has a men’s line, a women’s line, and some unisex pieces, but the boxy and loose-fitting garments are not strongly gendered. This sets them apart from Lululemon-branded garments, which tend to be body-hugging, in part because of the need for compression in activewear.

Lululemon has been growing quickly over the last few years, largely by scaling its core sportswear brand through a network of 460 stores in every corner of the globe, including Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and China.

By presenting itself as a full-on fashion brand, Lululemon has an opportunity to reach a new kind of customer—one primarily interested in style and design, rather than sport. “We’re trying to create a kind of pinnacle minimalism,” Stubbington says. “It’s a reductive ethos to the extreme.”

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