Is this high-end athletic and athleisure apparel brand giving the quality we need, or is it a “lemon” indeed?
From the Adidas tracksuit made famous in 70s and 80s hip-hop (and then made eternal in Russian tough-guy fashion) to the decidedly deprecated velour jumpsuits from the 90s R&B era, there’s been stylistic intrigue around athletic-looking items that are really an aesthetic in their own right.
Today, brands like Lululemon lead the way in providing on-demand athletic aesthetic. But is the brand itself worth the trip? Here’s a newbie’s take.
The term “athleisure” first made an appearance in 1979 but it officially was drafted around 2000 when a Canadian man had a “come-to-Jesus” moment in a yoga studio while rehabbing a back injury. Chip Wilson was wowed by the comfort of yoga pants and how great he thought he (and others) looked in them. He took the fascination fiscal and founded Lululemon.
The point of athleisure isn’t that you’re always heading to or from a workout — but that you look like you could be.
Lululemon. Fabletics. Athleta. The idea of athleisure brands is taking the comfort and calm of yoga (plus the cellulite-smoothing, ultra-concentrated microfiber, stretch, and compression of athletic gear) to the streets.
But what makes Lululemon better than the newer brands on the market? Let’s look at some comparables.
|Brands||Claim to fame||In the game since|
|Lululemon||• ultra smooth proprietary fabrics|
• offers performance returns
• offers free hemming and repairs – even if you bought used
|Fabletics||• clothes that contour every body type|
• a focus on affordability
|Athleta||• outfitting women to live their best, active lives|
• ethically produced with a focus on sourcing, sustainability
|Alo||• fashion first|
• 100% sweatshop-free and certified for top ethical and humane practices
Yes, it has been said that Lululemon is in the business of making too much of their high-end activewear — and we were here for it. Though many Healthline experts swear by the brand, they let me — the lone, dubious Lululemon hold-out of the bunch — test the shopping experience and a few items from the line itself.
Here’s what I thought:
- partly U.S. manufactured in California (mostly all across Asia)
- softness of fabric
- appealing colors and patterns
- form fitting
- many styles in brand UV
- most styles in brand sweat-wicking
- impressive return policy
What I liked
As you may have heard, “Black folk love a color-coordinated community event,” and that’s where Lululemon got me. The vibrant, patterned, and muted hues really stand out against my skin.
Although I was dubious of the premium price tag for the threads, I had to admit the tops and joggers fit and fall smoothly against curves (and rolls) and can conceal cellulite. I really liked how the sports bras offer wide straps to avoid the pain and circulation issues of straps digging into shoulders.
And let’s talk about the pockets! Lululemon has hacked the pocket game for athleisure. I was impressed with the pocket-in-pocket slots for keys, FOBs, lip gloss, cell phones, and more.
Lastly, I was a fan of the continuous drawstring in the pants. I found it to be a smart design, classy, and a hallmark of expensive clothing that is made to last, as advertised.
What got the side-eye
Fabletics has long advertised being body-size inclusive, with sizes spanning XXS to 4XL. I found — along with other reviewers — that Lululemon sizes can run small on particular body types. Lululemon has sizes from 0-20, but I found those sizes to be spotty online and in-store. Especially when it came to sports bras.
IMHO, part of plus-friendly means having those full range of sizes accessible at all times, whether that’s in-store or on-site. Having neither doesn’t cut it for me.
I found many cups in DDD to be discontinued or out of stock online. Bands seemed to jump from 36 to 42 and up, which meant I had to squeeze into the next best size on my ideal finds.
The price points of $98 for leggings, $68 for a tank top, and $128 for joggers were outside of my range. But if the fabrics can stand the test of stains in time, and the maker promises they’ll mend for free and accept trade-ins, then over the years, this may very well be a sound and timeless investment in style and quality.