Men love Lululemon’s ABC “anti-ball-crushing” pants.
So what makes these pants so special? And why are they claiming to solve a problem no man really claims to have — or at least won’t readily admit that he has?
We decided to find out for ourselves.
Trying on the pants for the first time, in the Lululemon dressing room of the Union Square store in New York City, I was immediately struck by the fact that these are not normal pants.
Mind you, I was aware that Lululemon’s core business is in the trendy “athleisure” sector, and that they primarily make workout clothes. I was also aware that the pants are made out of “Warpstreme” fabric, with four-way stretch. That’s a lot of stretch, gentlemen!
I was prepared for a pretty casual pant. But I was not prepared for how comfortable the pants were when I put them on. They feel much more like sweatpants, but (in most colours — more on that later) look very similar to regular pants.
Simply put: The fit and feel is absolutely fantastic.
I took a pant an inch or two larger than I normally do, as they only come in even-numbered waist sizes. They’re also offered in only two lengths: 33 inches and 36 inches. Lulu does offer free hemming, but that forces you to miss out on the reflective-cuff feature, something that those who commute by bike will find appealing.
Putting the pants to the test
After returning to the office with my new pants, I began the review process in earnest and changed into them immediately. They were so comfortable that I wore them nonstop for the next three or four days.
Though I didn’t go cycling or hiking — or do any of the sporty activities Lululemon seems to recommend men do in them — but I did engage in one mildly strenuous activity that’s common for the modern urban man. I went flat-pack-furniture shopping.
Fortunately, the pants were well suited to the task. The four-way stretch is a vast improvement over the cotton and cotton blends you find in jeans and khakis. I wasn’t able to assess the sweat-wicking properties of the ABC pants — flat-pack shopping isn’t that strenuous — but I can report that to they make it easy to bend down and lift relatively heavy things and move them around.
As for the pants’ ability to spare the unwelcome smashing of the sensitive regions … well, none of my fellow testers reported any issues in that department, even while bending, stretching, and partaking in more arduous activities. I didn’t have to deal with any crushing, either.
It turns out the “problem” the ABC pants are trying to solve only occurs with normal pants when a man is doing that which should not be done in normal pants. As we all know, when we do those things, we get crushed. There’s a right tool for every job, after all.
And now for the not so good stuff …
Although the ABC pants are designed to blend in and not look like leggings for men, they don’t always succeed. Depending on the colour, the pants can very obviously come off as athletic pants. For example, the black version worn by one Business Insider colleague had a slight sheen, betraying their true nature — doing something that could make you sweat!
Personally, I liked the logo, a stylised “ohm.”
It’s located rather discretely on the lower part of the leg, and I didn’t think much of it. But several of our wearers criticised the logo for being too obvious — a tip that the pants are an athletic garment rather than true casual wear.
The stretchiness of the fabric, while a key selling point, comes with a few problems. Everything you put in the front pockets is visible to anyone and everyone
When you put your hands in the pocket, you can see every finger outlined. One Business Insider tester described it as the pockets “moving around your hand.”
If you wear your wallet in the front pocket, that won’t work with these pants. I’m usually a front-pocket wallet guy, but I was forced to put it in in the zip pocket hidden in the right back pocket. I’d rather not sit on my wallet, but it was a fine compromise.
There’s also a special place for your phone, in a smaller pocket inside the right front pocket.
However, there’s still no real place for your keys. They look terrible in the front pocket — and don’t even think about the back pockets. I kept mine in my bag.
Concerns with durability
Our testers, myself included, had some issues with the durability of the pants’ fabric. The stitch that connects the edge of zip fly to the inside of the pant ripped completely off for me. For another tester, one-half of a belt loop ripped off while tugging the pants on for only the second time.
In both of these instances, the stitch never came undone. Instead, the fabric around the stitch ripped, leaving a pretty sizable hole.
This all made me wonder how the pants would hold up with any real abuse after six months to a year of heavy wear.
Are they worth it?
The Lululemon ABC pants are mostly incredible and their flaws can for the most part be forgiven. They’re extremely comfortable and can be worn in a variety of situations. Since they’re constructed like regular pants, they can even be worn to the office (if your workplace is fairly casual).
They fulfil their namesake duty admirably and for the most part are the perfect rough-and-tumble pant to wear on the weekends, when you still need to look presentable.
But there’s a very big “however.”
The pants retail for $US128. That price is too high considering the still relatively limited opportunity to actually wear the garment. Further, at this price point, no mass-produced pant should only offer only even-numbered waist sizing and only two lengths. For a polyester machine-made fabric, that’s inexcusable.
It comes down to this: If you value the versatility and comfort the pants provide, they would probably make you very happy. Minus my concerns about the fabric, the pants are clearly well made and well designed.
But if you find yourself balking at the price tag, they aren’t awesome enough to persuade you to fork over the dough. Even if they successfully avoid the dreaded crush.
Lululemon provided pairs of “ABC” pants to six Business Insider employees, including the author, for the purposes of review.