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Athleta Creeping on Lululemon to Close Gap on Yoga Market

in Business of Yoga, YD News

Cheaper prices and copycat tactics have Gap’s Athleta in the running to tap the yoga market.

Athleta is quickly closing the gap on Lululemon (pun absolutely intended). Athleta, the company adopted four years ago for $150 million as the down dogging leg of big poppa  Gap Inc. is steadily closing in on butt-snuggling, wallet-slimming Lululemon’s turf. Not only are prices cheaper than the luon-y competitor, Athleta is pulling a single white female and stalking the hell out of the yoga chain.

According to Businessweek, every time a lulu location opens Athleta stores are cropping up nearby like petulant copycat children. Other copycat tactics include infiltrating the community and holding regular sponsored classes like Mommy & Me Yoga as well as training the staff to be overly friendly and just way too interested in how much our extracurricular activities will bounce our boobs.

It’s a smart move by Athleta, what with the US market of womens active wear already raking in $14.3 billion, but can they catch up with the culty company that made a record $1 billion in sales last year alone, despite stock dips, and has the fourth-highest sales per square foot among North American retailers after Apple Inc., Tiffany & Co. and Coach Inc.? Yowsers.

Luring yoga teachers with a tempting 30 percent discount (versus lulu’s 15) is not a bad place to start. Oh, and that they have an incredibly profitable corporation and established megabrand.

We’re thinking everyone should just get themselves one of these numbers and be done with it.

[top photo: Yue Wu, The Chronicle / SF]

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9 comments… add one

  • Like so many other manufacturers of athletic wear, these stores will start getting my money (maybe) when they start making clothing in my size.

  • linda

    I agree, every opportunity i get to speak to these stores, i make a plea for clothing that fits real women, women with curves, women who want some coverage, comfort and fit. I have the money to support my yoga, but not enough clothing places to spend it.

  • honomann

    Lululemon will be paying back it’s win-at-all-cost karma. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of folks.

  • Tanya

    I’ve been shopping the Athleta catalog for years because of their sizing. At 4’10 and 95 pounds, they are about the only line of clothes I can actually wear off the rack. It gets old shopping in the kids section when you are a 42-year old woman.

  • Anne B.

    I agree with Tori. I recently went into a Lulu store and asked for clothes and a sports bra in my size, and the sales chick literally cringed when I said “size 16.” I walked out feeling like a grotesque blob. They need to realize yoga is for all bodies, all sizes.

  • Tanya

    Out of curiosity, I checked the Lulumon site and saw they only carry from size 2 to size 12. That sure doesn’t allow for the huge variety of sizes and shapes of women who practice yoga and/or wear yoga pants. It seems ridiculous really.

    Athleta carries a Petite 00 to Tall size 20. I’m not a shill for Athleta. It just doesn’t seem fair to slam them on sizing then they have a good range available.

  • Tanya — I’m not “slamming” on Athleta when I point out that they still do not carry clothing that fits my body and that I therefore will not be purchasing from them until that changes. And ultimately, what’s a “good range” of sizes is quite subjective. It may be “good” for you because they carry sizes that fit you. However, since they still exclude people my size from their clothing line, it’s not at all “good” for me.

  • I have purchased from Athleta. I’m tall, and not a skinny-bean tall. Sometimes when I try on yoga clothes I wonder why everyone who makes clothes things I should have bigger boobs and a smaller butt! That was not the case at Athleta. I don’t work for them and I don’t have any special discount. I won’t argue they are perfect for everyone, but I was happy with what I found.

    Even if a company makes clothing in every size, an individual store will not necessarily have every item in every size. In retail, you order your merchandise based on what has been sold or requested in the past. This makes sense. If experience tells you that in last season’s line you ran out of sizes 10 and 22 but sold nothing in size 2, you will place this season’s order accordingly (more 10 and 22, less or no 2). I don’t know how wide Athleta’s size range is, but I do know they sell online as well.

    Finally, as any larger bodied person can tell you, some clothing designed for smaller people cannot just be “sized up” for larger people, and vice versa. Just look at sports bras. You can make a XXXL Champion C9 stretchy bra, but it isn’t going to provide any support; the gorgeous and strong Enell bras designed to support DD breasts are totally inappropriate for A breasts and would look ridiculous.

    So this is one of those cases where not only will a single design (let’s say for yoga pants) NOT flatter or fit everyone, I don’t understand why everyone thinks it should.

    Buy what you like. If you find something you like but not made in your size, tell the company you want them to make clothes in your size. (If lots of people do that, they will make clothes in that size. If people just gruntle on the internet, change is unlikely.)

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