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Gap Out to Gank Lululemon Lovers With Athleta Stores

in Business of Yoga, YD News

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.

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15 comments… add one

  • sheryl

    as a plus size yoga teacher and student I’d be thrilled to shop at any ‘yoga’ clothing store that offered their wares in my size! Unfortunately, this means that neither Athleta nor Lululemon are currently making any money on me….or any of the growing number of plus-size yogi’s.

  • Jen

    Hi,

    Athleta does have some plus sizes online. Not sure about in the store…

  • Sarah

    Nice, maybe showing the clothing in person will force Athleta to start using quality fabric for the price.

    Also A+ for use of the word gank.

  • I just wish that LuluLemon’s website was easier to use. I love their stores, but it is so hard to find things on their site! I think that is where Athleta’s strength is, so it surprises me that they are trying the retail route. I am very interested to see how all of this plays out.

  • i love the range offered in the athleta catalog – hiking, travel, swimwear – and i’ve actually purchased quite a few pieces. but like sarah said, the quality of the fabric isn’t always worth the money they’re charging.

    BUT it’s just nice to have an alternative to lulu. i can get a cropped pair of yoga pants from athleta for $54 while the ones at lulu are $86. lulu’s better quality, but is it worth $30+ more?

  • Kimberly

    Sheryl, try Old Navy’s yoga pants. They have different types and styles, as well as great plus sizes, and the pants are affordable. Ninety bucks for yoga pants? Um, no thanks.

  • abbylou

    I don’t like the quality of Athleta’s products. I have tried buying Title Nine’s store-brand of yoga wear too– it sucks! I have to say that my top picks for yoga wear are Lulu, Prana, and Beyond Yoga. All are pricey, but they hold-up after repeated washings and wearings. I like Lulu pants best. Prana makes good shorts. Beyond Yoga makes the best tops– they really hold your boobs in well. I don’t even have large ones, but they are always falling out of my Lulu top.

    @Kimberly
    I understand not wanting to shell-out $90 for pants. But you only have to do it once. I used to buy yoga pants from Gap Body and Target– I had to buy 3 or 4 pairs a year because they would lose their shape and get holes along the seams and crotch. I have had my Lulu pants for 2 years and they are still going strong.

  • i agree, kimberly. $90 for yoga pants is rather ridiculous no matter where you go. i just wish they could make affordable pants that still have all the sweat-wicking and 4 way stretch that lulu does. and seriously, all the lulu stuff is made in china, so you know it doesn’t actually cost that much to make them!!!

  • amy

    I agree. Try Lucy pants. At $68. these pants are much more reasonable. If you inquire about the professional discount, you may get 30% off non sale gear.

  • sheryl

    Kimberly, thanks. I usually do buy Old Navy, and there is another online store here in Canada that has really great pants. The truth is I would like the option to shop at any of the yoga shops, but in reality I don’t really care what I practice in so long as it doesn’t fall down or up, I am comfortable!

  • Whiskas

    Gah, LLL. I asked for some size 10 pants at their store and the girl directed me to the “plus sizes”. Um, no. Also, they don’t make their short shorts or pants in colors other than black above a size 8. Also, all their stuff needs to be washed separately.

  • clockworktomato

    Had to chime in when I saw the Old Navy recommendations.

    I’ve looked longingly at the shapely Lulu and HardTail yogawear in magazine ads for years, now — particularly the tops — but that $60 – $90 pricetag (or, in HardTail’s case, the difficulty of finding their products in my area) left me unwilling to take the plunge. So, for yoga pants, I went with the “below $20″ options that I could find, including a couple of options from Target (Champion was one), Old Navy, and Victoria’s Secret. Besides, I needed to be able to have more than one pair of pants.

    Of the three brands, the pants from Victoria’s Secret are the only ones I still enjoy wearing and that I would purchase again. The pants I purchased from Target looked like frumpy, saggy sweatpants within a couple of washings (cold water, front load washer, air dry).

    The Old Navy pants held up a little longer than the Target pants as far as shape was concerned, but two pair of them have developed small holes in the seams. All of them have faded and become shapeless and saggy after a few months of regular wear. And, the thing I truly can’t stand about the Old Navy pants (though strangely it seems the ON designers go through phases of adding/subtracting this “feature) — they have a vertical oval “crotch panel” in them, something like pantyhose, but visible from the outside of the pants. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be reinforcing (it isn’t) or odor reducing (it isn’t, the pants are cotton/spandex), but let’s just say that after a few washings this panel becomes saggy too, giving the pants an awkward little bulge right in the midline of the crotch. Very nice.

    To be fair, I have actually really enjoyed all of the sports tops (not the camisole/tank tops, but the more supportive yoga and running tanks) that I purchased from Old Navy, and they’ve held up very well with the same laundering frequency as the pants. I can recommend the tanks and will gladly continue to purchase them.

    However, for other clothing options I’ve finally just decided to make a bargain with myself and allow myself an article of “the good stuff” for reaching particular practice-related/health related goals. (I respond well to reward systems and this is a system that creates a positive cycle, since reaching my goals will grant a reward that is useful — not detrimental — to reaching my next goal.) If the Lulu pants last as long and hold up as well as most of the reviews I’ve seen and read, they’ll actually be *more* cost-effective than the Old Navy pants in the long run.

  • Meghann

    I have a huge problem with the fact that Lululemon considers anything above a size 8 “plus size.” When I emailed the company about this, they basically said they don’t have enough room in their stores for “expanded sizes.” I am a size 10, and can’t wear any of their stuff. I will always shop at Athleta, they have a very diverse rage of sizes and different fits. I have some of their stuff and I like it very much. I would love to have the opportunity to shop in a store.

  • I like lulu a lot but the price is definitley prohibitive. My second favorite is Green Apple…you can get it on their website and the prices are ok, but I find it for $16/pop (pants and tops) at TJ max. It lasts forever and is super comfortable. Also, it’s made from bamboo, so it doesn’t smell sweaty nearly as fast.

  • Eli

    Ladies, I agreed with many of you that Lululemon IS SO OVER PRICEY AND THE SIZES ARE SO SMALL! I wear an small-medium size everywhere (including Athleta) and at Lulu has to be L or XL! It’s ridicu…Only Athleta has good quality for their price, (check stuff on line to see what is made of) and good sizes, (REAL ONES) beautiful colors and the sales are great! my mom wears size 14 and only Athleta has it.

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