Enter any SoulCycle or Pure Barre class and you’re bound to see someone wearing lululemon athletica. When thinking of lululemon, you envision activewear like stylish yoga pants and patterned sports bras. The company, also referred to as lulu by its customers, has more than 300 stores selling the technical athletic apparel.
However, lululemon revealed a new, exclusive line within the brand in 2009 at a store in its home city of Vancouver, Canada. The line, lululemon lab, is featured in a new concept store that opened in New York City last month. lululemon lab is focused on fashionable and functional wear-to-work clothing and accessories — e.g., sunglasses and backpacks.
lululemon lab is much more than a retail space; it’s a half-store, half-design center where consumers and designers interact with one another on the sales floor. The design studio and sample room share one open space, so each shopper gets a behind-the-scenes-look at the whole process.
Consumers are encouraged to give designers candid feedback about what they love or hate about the products. This fusion of product design and customer experience is new, exciting and could be paving the way for the future of apparel retailers. Here are three reasons why:
1. Product testing: Designers have the ability to test out new products and ideas, and then get real-time feedback. If a customer is trying on a pair of pants and doesn’t like the fit, he or she can tell the designers as they're working on the product. This allows the design team to build directly off customer wants and needs that will eventually inspire future brand collections and styles. Buyers feel empowered through this hands-on experience.
2. Provides a level of intimacy: When you purchase from a brand time and time again, you want to know more about the people behind it. lululemon lab customers are able to get closer to the designers than ever before. The lab enables shoppers to put a face to a product. It’s no longer just a shirt — it’s a person with talent who spends time and effort designing the shirt so it’s exactly what you want. Obviously, designers in any company are people, yet the lululemon lab takes this idea and makes it a reality for customers, driving brand trust along the way.
3. Tailored products: The lab’s products aren’t necessarily tailored for one individual; they're tailored for a specific group of people — New York City dwellers. Designers are able to focus on creating clothing and accessories for one demographic rather than worrying about what the whole world wants to wear.
The lab's customers feel like they're getting the VIP treatment. They know why things are made the way they are and why the products cost what they cost. In turn, the designers are rewarded with free, uncensored feedback. The lululemon lab is a unique concept that’s paving the way for the brand’s future success.
lululemon lab clothing and accessories can’t be purchased online, so you’ll have to visit in person either in New York City or Vancouver.