one man’s love letter to lululemon
I’m a man and I love lululemon.
These days, I’m always caught wearing at least one thing from lululemon. No, I’m not talking leggings and yoga pants (that was only one time), their standard athletic wear forms essential part of my workout wardrobe. And if they made jeans, I would probably only ever wear lululemon clothes. So I was not at all surprised when I read about the study showing that lululemon athletica was the most popular clothing store in Massachusetts. I sometimes get made fun of for only wearing their clothing, but it’s for good reason.
Why is lululemon Great?
In the summer of 2009, I walked into a brand store in Roosevelt Field Mall in New York. There was a huge funky wooden silhouette of a tree surrounding the storefront window. The shop was warm, inviting, with a bit of mystery to it. As soon as I walked into lululemon athletica for the first time, I was hooked by the homey feel, attentive staff, and fun energy.
I walked in and was greeted by a super friendly but not overbearing employee (big shoutout to Bec). We ended up having an amazing conversation about life goals, travel plans, and adventure. I shared my story, and I got a pretty cool glimpse into hers.
lululemon calls them Educators for a reason. Sure she told me all about the clothes, but I learned more about the company. All of the employees are encouraged to set far-reaching life goals, and talk about them in staff meetings and beyond. They are challenged to do everything they can to reach and exceed these visions, and celebrate their victories.
This type of support and development for employees is almost unheard of in most companies, and especially in retail environments. This seems to be a huge priority for lululemon, encouraging their employees to attend fitness classes at local gyms and studios. Their focus on wellness, both physical and mental, is absolutely incredible and hopefully the start of a very much welcomed trend in corporate wellness programs.
A Good Fit
I was just at the beginning of my personal fitness journey, and in need of some new clothes that would help get me there and work for me. Every item I tried on fit like a glove and felt amazing. The shirts are super soft and light, and feel like I’m wearing nothing at all. I’ve worn their shirts for every single one of my races, and have never experienced any of the dreaded chest chafing. The sleeves are cut in a way that fits my broader shoulders, and yet the shirt still hangs tightly and evenly across my smaller waist. And it’s not just me, I’ve since gotten my dad and friends hooked on them, and despite varied body types and sizes, there are overwhelmingly positive responses.
Before I found lululemon, I was never been able to find a pair of sweatpants or workout pants that fit me right. Either they flared out at the hips and pockets, were super baggy that I would trip on them, or were made from heavy droopy material. All of this made them impossible to move around in, or ridiculously unattractive. Again, lululemon pants fit me perfectly, comfortably, and without any bulges or billows. Their pants come long, so they’ll hem in-store for absolutely free, and they’ll be ready to pick up in just a few days.
High Quality & Support
The first thing I bought from lululemon was a metal vent T-shirt that I wore almost everyday on my 6 month trip to india. That shirt endured a lot: riding on the back of trucks and motorcycles, sleeping on streets and floors, trekking through pine forests and the Outer Himalaya Mountains, being blasted with powdered dye during the Holi Color Festival, weekly washings in sinks and buckets, and a daily pounding from my backpack. By the time I returned to the states the shirt was mostly intact, which was pretty surprising for it practically being my only shirt during the long trip. Unfortunately, some of the mesh fabric along the collar had started to come undone.
So I brought the shirt into a lululemon store to see if there was anything they can do to fix it, and I learned about the greatest thing: If any seams or stitching come undone, they will fix or replace the item for completely free.
I’ve thrown out so many clothes from other stores when they have come undone. Never again. I’ve learned to invest in quality clothes, especially from a company that stands behind their product so much that they’ll eat the cost of making sure it will stay on your body and in your closet. It’s tremendous peace of mind knowing that when I’m buying something, it’s practically insured.
I walked out of the store that day with a brand new shirt, and bid farewell to my old and worn travel companion.
lululemon knows a thing or two about building and celebrating community. Local stores offer everything from complimentary fitness classes every week in most locations, to free run clubs in others, and one-off special events that bring folks together around their neighborhoods. This creates a loyal group of wellness-minded customers and students who can come together and feel connected and motivated in cities across the country.
Since I’ve jumped into my work as a fitness trainer and group exercise instructor, I’ve shifted my role with lululemon too. From start out as just a huge fan and customer, I’ve started to give back to their community, leading some of the free in-store classes and interacting with folks in a new way.
I stop into my favorite stores usually once a week just to visit and connect with the staff, under the guise of seeing what’s new on the racks. The company attracts people to work there who are caring, motivating, creative, and focused. I continue to have incredible conversations about career and life paths that have inspired me to make changes that challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone. These interactions have paid off in immeasurable ways, advancing my personal and professional life by massive leaps.
The community this store has created has impacted my life in huge ways; something that seems unimaginable coming out of a simple trip to the mall to buy a shirt.
Thank you lululemon.