Lululemon’s Pricey Workout Gear: Better Than Other Top Brands?

By Megan Tvrdik

mtvrdik@smu.edu

Workout clothes have become everyday attire for me. They’re comfortable and easy to pull on before you head to class.  If you look through my closet, you’ll see that I have tons of running shorts, yoga pants and athletic shoes. To me, you can never have enough workout attire.

 

However, if you dig through my workout gear, you’ll see that I prefer two major brands: Nike and Under Armour. I do own other brands, like Adidas and Champion, just not a big selection.

Recently I’ve begun to notice one brand of workout gear that’s becoming more and more popular: Lululemon Athletica. I see women wearing Lululemon at the gym and out running errands.  And of course, it’s a growing brand on SMU’s campus.

I first heard about Lululemon Athletica from my aunt more than a year ago.  A workout instructor and marathon runner, my aunt is always looking for comfortable clothes that fit well. So what stopped her from buying Lululemon? The price.

When I went online to check out some of the items the company sells, I was actually shocked. A pair of running shorts cost from $54 to $68? My Nike or Under Armour shorts run roughly $20 to $40. I kept searching through Lululemon Athletica’s website and saw it wasn’t just the shorts that were expensive, but all the workout attire.

This made me wonder: What makes Lululemon’s workout attire cost so much? Is it the material, the way it fits, the comfort it provides? Or do women shell out extra money for Lululemon because the gear is known to be “fashionable”?

To answer this question, I decided to do a little investigating. I started by asking two SMU students – both workout gear aficionados – about their favorite athletic brands. Megan Marchant, a marketing major, is a Lululemon Athletica fan, but also wears Nike, Thriv Fit and Under Armour. She says she prefers Lululemon Athletica’s yoga pants, tops and pullovers but Nike’s running shorts. On the other hand, Keely Chapman, a psychology major, wears Nike, Oasis, North Face, Under Armour and Victoria’s Secret. Her preferred brand is Oasis.

Chapman say she likes Lululemon – but she thinks the price is a bit too steep for workout attire.  Marchant says that while Lululemon costs more than other brands, the price may be worth it:  “Sometimes. I usually purchase items in a color and style that I know I can wear for a long time since they are a little more expensive than other workout clothing options. However, I feel that their reputation is increasingly getting better so they can afford to price their clothes higher in comparison to other brands.”

Since I still didn’t understand why Lululemon Athletica was any different from my favorite brands, I decided to do a little “experiment” of my own. I would purchase my first pair of running shorts from Lululemon Athletica and put them to the test. I would find the “perfect pair” to wear for my daily run, and see what difference, if any, I noticed from my Nike or Under Armour brands.  I wanted to know what really made these shorts so cost-worthy.

After a trip to the Lululemon store in NorthPark, I found a pair of running shorts that were comfortable and fit the way I like them to: loose and easy to run in. They didn’t ride up my legs, and they stayed in place on my waistline while I was running — two of my biggest pet peeves.

After a “test run,” I have to admit that I really did like my new Lululemon Athletica shorts. I think I’ll go back to buy a few more pair — but not on a regular basis. I’d rather pay $20 to $40 for a pair of shorts, especially if I believe they aren’t much different from a pair that costs $54 to $68.

To answer my own question, I think that Lululemon Athletica sells their clothes at a higher price because they know it’s a brand that many women are willing to purchase. It’s not because their clothes are more comfortable or have a “one-of-a-kind” fit.

In short, it’s simply the Lululemon name and symbol that make this must-have workout gear.

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