Lululemon customers are furious since founder
Chip Wilson commentedlast week that his pants don’t work for everyone.
The firestorm from the comments, and Wilson’s controversial apology, have blown the door wide open for Lululemon’s competition, according to a report by Sterne Agee.
“Based on our checks and retail experience, we believe that the core customer has been alienated and will begin to look for yoga and active-wear pants … from numerous other brands,” the analysts write.
Fortunately, spurned Lululemon customers have no shortage of options for new yoga-wear brands.
Some, like Gap’s Athleta, are huge. Others are more niche brands that can be ordered online.
Athleta, which is owned by Gap, has been rapidly expanding its store base. Like Lululemon, Athleta puts emphasis on community and in-store events.
There were even rumours that Athleta was poaching yoga instructors from Lululemon. Athleta could be Lululemon's greatest threat because it has the resources to expand quickly and offer similar clothing at lower prices.
Zella is Nordstrom's in-house yoga brand. The brand caused a stir with yoga fans in 2009 after it was revealed that Nordstrom had poached one of Lululemon's top designers.
Zella has the same elite client base as Lululemon, and has received rave reviews among yoga fans. Unlike Lululemon, the brand comes in plus and kid-sizes.
Under Armour decided to invest in its women's business. The company, which is already known for its moisture-wicking fabric, is expanding its store base.
To appeal to women, Under Armour is redesigning many stores and acquiring top talent. Wall Street sees its Studio yoga line as a top competitor.
Lily Lotus is an ecologically friendly, Hawaiian brand that's available in boutiques around the world. The brand is known for its eclectic, stylish look.
As a boutique brand, Lily Lotus could appeal to Lululemon fans who are disillusioned by the retailer's rapid expansion and quality control problems.
Gap's Old Navy brand also got into the high-tech yoga business. Old Navy expanded its active-wear line in 2011, and the move has been credited with improving sales.
Old Navy's yoga line comes in tall and plus sizes. At $US12, the yoga pants are irresistible to consumers.
Prana is available in outdoor stores around the country. With $50 tank tops and $US80 yoga pants, the brand is similarly priced to Lululemon.
Prana is already established in the men's business -- a market that Lululemon is going after aggressively. Despite the brand's growth, many of the original employees remain.
Victoria's Secret has been expanding yoga offerings in its VSX and Pink lines. The brand has posted record sales for several years, and is beloved by women everywhere.
Victoria's Secret is more visible than Lululemon. It's also big enough to know how to grow without quality control problems.
Mika makes clothing for women and has a respectful e-commerce business. It also has about a dozen stores around the U.S.
The brand offers specialty apparel for hot yoga, pilates, and even pole-dancing. Instead of using real models, Mika uses real-life athletes for its promotional materials. It's recently been featured in The New York Times and Maxim.
Nike has recently built a formidable women's yoga line, with plans to expand even more.
With its ubiquitous store presence, Nike has the opportunity to hook customers who Lululemon can't even reach yet.
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