Uh oh. We saw this coming! Gap Inc. is setting its sights on conquering Lulumania! That monster clothing chain we oft love to hate, hate to love, acquired fitness clothing co. Athleta two years ago-ish (for $150 million), causing a bit of an ‘oh dear’ across the market. Until now, Athleta was strictly online retail (besides a small “laboratory” location), but Thursday marked the first official store in San Francisco, a test site for future outposts. Does this mean Lululemon will lose their luon stronghold on consumer buns? We’ll have to wait and see.
Of course, Gap isn’t the only brand tackling the $31 billion women’s activewear market. Nike, Adidas, Target, and Old Navy have been there done that, not to mention the myriad smaller niche players. Does Gap have the power, likability and chutzpah to win over lululollies?
Athleta’s clothing, geared to women ages 30 to 50, offers performance and convenience details, whether hidden mesh to enhance breathability, interior pockets to hold keys, or reflective piping that keeps runners visible to cars at night.
Prices range from about $40 to $60 for tops, to $75 to $95 for pants.
Sounds very lulu-ish, and not exactly carving out the path for affordable yogawear. Let the stretchy pants battle begin! Competition is healthy, right? No word yet on lulu-digging strategies or crotchety ads.
Trivia for kicks: Gap Inc.’s sales were $14.2 billion for 2009 and $14.53 billion for 2008.