Lululemon, Nike and the Rise of Athleisure

By: Melissa Miller

A new trend has entered the fashion and retail world over the past few years and that trend is called Athleisure. This new trend combines the comfort of wearing athletic clothes with fashion. In other words, people are wearing athletic clothes in non-athletic settings and it is now considered highly fashionable. In the article, “Lululemon, Nike and the Rise of Athleisure” it discusses how Lululemon was really the one to make this trend popular. For those of you who don’t know Lululemon, it’s a powerhouse company that sells men’s and women’s athletic clothing.

Greg Petro starts the article with an interesting question on whether or not this is just a fad. According, to the numbers it looks like Athleisure is here to stay. In U.S. alone consumers spent $323 billion on apparel, footwear and accessories in 2014. According to analysts, this is a trend that is here to stay for very long time. According to Chief Analyst Marshal Cohen from The NPD Group Inc. said “This is no longer a trend – it is now a lifestyle that is too comfortable, for consumers of all ages, for it go away anytime soon.”

Lululemon is a company that promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. When you buy Lululemon they don’t want you to just by the brand they want you to buy the lifestyle. Which is why you shouldn’t be surprised to see them holding yoga classes inside of their stores. This has been a successful time for Lululemon especially over the past few years. One of the big factors that have really helped promote this brand is the living a more active and healthy life trend. According to the article, Lululemon posted a 16 percent growth in sales this year, jumping from $391 million a year ago to $53 million this year. Not a bad year for Lululemon, not a bad year at all. However, with this success that they have seen over the past few years the level of competition is becoming very high in this market place.

Nike being the powerhouse athletic clothing company that is was one of the first companies that really jumped into this market place. Nike has now specifically targeted women’s athleisure, with launching new products coming this fall and winter that are for this specific target market. They really brought out the big guns in these campaigns with its “#BetterForIt” digital marketing campaign as well as featuring everyday women rather than supermodels and professional athletes. This is something that as a consumer we really haven’t seen Nike do, they have been more notorious for using sports icons for promoting their products. According to the article, Nike has the potential to grow women’s sales by 40 percent or up to $7 billion dollars by 2017.

Both Lululemon are seeing astronomical results from this new marketplace. Over the last 52 weeks Lululemon’s shares are up 31.4 percent and 40.1 percent. This really starts to pose the question on whether or not other companies should be starting to enter. Whether or not it is smart for them, they still are. There are a number of popular women’s brands that are starting to make their way in such as Victoria’s Secret, Fabletics, Under Armour and Forever 21. Tory Burch and Lilly Pulitzer also recently announced that they are coming out with an athletic line.

The really interesting question with this trend is are all of the new entries to this market place going to see success like Nike and Lululemon have, or will just not be able to compete? In terms, of brand recognition and loyalty it may be hard to compete with companies like Lululemon and Nike. However, if they can come in and undercut these bigger brands they have potential to see success. This new competition could in the long run hurt Lululemon and Nike, but if they continue innovating new products and styles they should still see success.


Petro, Greg. “Lululemon, Nike and the Rise of Athleisure.” Forbes. Forbes-Investing, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

15 thoughts on “Lululemon, Nike and the Rise of Athleisure

  1. Melissa Santos September 29, 2015 / 5:48 pm

    Melissa, I really enjoyed your presentation and the article you chose. I found it really paralleled well with the topic of branding and what we were discussing in class. The article you chose highlighted a new fashion trend, known as “Athleisure”, which prior to this article I noticed on TV advertisements. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Kate Hudson has come out with an athletic “athleisure” clothing line. The commercial ad displays Kate when she’s a young child in the 80’s wearing work out clothes and it being unacceptable to wear then. Then the ad fast forwards to present time Kate Hudson, wearing her athleisure brand clothes while advocating that this is finally acceptable and “what’s in”. I believe Lululemon created a movement, and Nike picked up on it. Both companies lacked a celebrity presence, and I feel as though Kate Hudson caught momentum of this movement, and created her own line while also filling in the celebrity presence void. Regardless, as all of this is fairly recent, I do believe much like you, that this movement is here to stay. Brand loyalty to the originals like Lululemon and Nike will provide them a strong edge in competition, however, I do think other clothing lines like Forever 21 (who have also come into the athleisure category with lower, priced items) can serve as strong competition to higher priced goods like Lululemon, and Nike in terms of frequency of purchase.


  2. Nicole September 29, 2015 / 6:51 pm

    I completely agree with this. More and more now people are going to classes, shopping and or just being casual and want to wear athletic sporty clothes. Even myself enjoys buying new athletic gear to wear not only when I work out but also for other occasions. Not only LuLu lemon but all other stores are starting to get larger sections of work out gear for example: TJ max, Marshalls, Forever 21, etc. The thing with these places though is that their work out clothes are a lot cheaper compared to LuLu lemon- both in price and quality. However, LuLU lemon is surviving and striving with their prices being so high because of how well the quality of the clothes are.


  3. jck21 September 29, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    This blog was very interesting. I agree that many people use athletic wear just to be comfortable and relax as long as wearing to be active especially for women. I think that it is a very smart move for Nike to go into the fashion aspect for athletic wear because more and more wear these clothes every single day, they will definitely make profit from not just because they are selling fashionable athletic wear but because of the brand name.


  4. Tara Stuhr September 29, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    Lululemon is 100% a lifestyle to live by. I was introduced to lululemon a couple years ago, and a lot of the successfulness, in my mind, is all based on the quality that the brand has to offer. Not only are the clothes they make comfortable and fashion forward, but it is a high quality guaranteed. The company even goes as far as if it rips or gets destroyed in any way, they will replace the product no problem. With all this in mind, I now have troubles wearing jeans on a regular basis because its not the same feeling. Maybe that is food for thought for the brand…lululemon jeans???


  5. Teresa Polli September 29, 2015 / 6:55 pm

    I found this article to be very interesting. It is funny because everyday I see more and more people in athletic clothes no matter if they are in a gym setting or not, myself included, but I didn’t know their was a name for it. Athleisure is extremely popular today in both male and female. I think it is a good move for businesses to create new athletic lines to fit this trend but I do not think they will be able to keep up with LuLu Lemon or Nike. By following this new trend of Athleisure the companies will grow, but LuLu Lemon and Nike will just continue to expand as well. These companies are unstoppable and as long as this trend continues their is no touching them!


  6. Kristen Elizabeth (@baniak_kristen) September 29, 2015 / 6:57 pm

    I really enjoyed this article because I completely agree with the statement of how Lululemon and Nike are becoming more fashionable. More and more people are wearing these items for everyday attire and I am one of them. Personally I love both of these brands and wear them almost every day. They are cute and trendy for all types of ages! I really enjoyed this article and hope it brought fashion attention to others!


  7. justine munroe September 29, 2015 / 7:01 pm

    I believe this has been a huge time span of success and growth for these companies because healthy and fit is the new trend. I do not believe this trend will fade away as quick as others generally do. Nike and Lululemon already have a great brand recognition, especially due to their quality of products. So people automatically think these companies when they think fit and healthy.


  8. Chris Coveney September 29, 2015 / 7:02 pm

    I would greatly agree with this article and the idea of this new way of living. I personally also recently over past years have changed my style to be more along the lines of casual athletic wear that can commonly be worn on an everyday basis. Lulu lemon especially is a company that has blown up over the last few years in becoming a leader in this department of style of clothing.


  9. sarajanecox September 29, 2015 / 7:02 pm

    Athleisure is a new trend that has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Many well known companies not known for athletic clothing are coming out with a new casual athletic lines. This is making the casual athletic clothing market very competitive. Lululemon and Nike are currently two of the most popular brands within this space. However, with many companies creating trendy athletic lines poses the question: will these brands remain on top of the competition or will people venture off to try new athletic clothing lines? Personally I believe people will continue to shop at Nike and Lululemon because they are such strong well known brands. Lululemon and Nike have many brand loyal consumers because they have impeccable high quality products. A problem may occur if people branch out to athletic lines such as forever 21, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret. These athletic lines are less expensive so people may be more apt to try this clothing.


  10. Evan Downs September 29, 2015 / 7:06 pm

    While reading this post I am currently sitting in class wearing a Nike dry fit athletic shirt, Nike dry fit athletic shorts, and Nike running shoes. I often where athletic wear for its comfort, but I also put it on on my way to class in hopes that wearing it all day would really encourage me to go for a run or hit the gym at the end of my day. I do think this trend has become really popular recently, especially with Lululemon or other yoga apparel for girls. Thanks for the post, it was quite an interesting read.


  11. Jameson Pinette November 9, 2015 / 12:45 am

    Athleisure is not anything that will go away any time soon. This movement parallels the increased awareness and demand for fitness. Likewise, cross-fit, yoga and other classes have taken off. Just as Nike and Lululemon indicate a way of life, so do these ever popular subcultures. With more of the population interested in healthy living, the market for athleisure will only increase. Despite Nike and Lululemon having a hold on the market, there is still time for other entrants to make their mark.


  12. Joe Pantalone December 10, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    This article was very interesting and definitely highlights the direction people are going in their form of dressing. Athleisure is a trend that is here to stay. Most of the clothes that are being produced in this style can be worn for everyday wear or for formal wear. I agree that possessing these types of clothing is definitely a lifestyle and here to stay for a long time.


  13. MIchael Arcidi December 10, 2015 / 5:54 pm

    LuLu Lemon is very interesting company as it is one of the first to meld both fashion and athletic utility. With the fitness boom of recent years, many brands have some to position themselves as a lifestyle brand. Positioning themselves as such is a clever maneuver, as they are able to charge a premium for products which would have previously be considered activity specific apparel. With these marketing positions, LuLu Lemon has transformed its self from a yoga apparel outfitter to a retailer of lifestyle clothing applicable for any sort of exercise or just for casual wear.


  14. Megan Lac March 2, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    My fear with the trend of “athleisure” is that companies are no longer going to produce products that will withstand high intensity workouts. That this trend of being comfortable on the daily is going to outweigh the need for workout apparel that withstands a rough workout. A few comments mentioned H&M and Forever 21 having athlesuire clothing, however I think Nike and Lululemon won’t be too affected by their addition to the market because there are people who are still in need of high intensity work out gear. I also have a feeling that if companies do in fact still have a high performance line that the price of these products will be rising to compensate for the focus on cheaper products.


  15. Alicia March 10, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    I found this article to be super interesting, mainly because “athleisure” has become extremely popular. I love Nike, it is without a doubt my favorite brand for athletic apparel. Though I do not personally own anything from Lululemon, I also really like their apparel. However, as far as other brands such as Tory Burch, Forever 21, or Victorias Secret creating their own athletic clothing lines, I do not think this will affect Nike or Lululemon enough to make any real impact on their brands. I buy Nike because it is a company that found its success strictly in athletics. I would never buy athletic apparel from somewhere like Forever21 or Tory Burch because that is not what they are known for. When I think of Tory Burch, I think of high end shoes and purses (even though the brand sells more than just those things) because that is what the brand is most known for. If I am going to spend money on apparel, it will be on a brand that is passionate for that style of wear. The only reason these brands are getting into the athleisure scene is because of how popular it is and although it is important to continue to evolve and stay up to date with the latest trends, these other brands are already well established so they do not need to jump into this particular trend.


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