Lululemon may have a problem on its hands.
According to a recent note from Wells Fargo analysts, Lululemon has been designing tightly-fitting shirts. While tight pants are popular, women tend to prefer looser tops.
“Notably, the tops business had become too focused on close-to-the-body styles (which works for bottoms), but the LULU customer wants more ‘flowing’ tops,” the analysts write.
Lululemon is working on giving consumers the looser-fitting shirts that they want.
On a recent earnings call, CEO Laurent Potdevin said the selection in the stores was “shifting in the right direction.”
Additionally, he said the category was improving; he credited the the tops sector’s positive sales in part to to the success of the new, looser silhouette, saying that consumers could layer it.
(Another perk that Potdevin didn’t mention of the looser silhouette? It can conceal bloat; something, that, all body positivity aside, can make even the most confident women self-conscious from time to time.)
Wells Fargo points out that the tops business takes up more floor space than bottoms do.
In 2015, the company reinvented its pants business with a new “Pant Wall,” through which it organised pants by “sensation,” thereby making it easier to people to shop for pants. For fiscal 2015, total comparable sales skyrocketed 10%.
Further, this “bodes well for the tops opportunity later this year,” Wells Fargo writes, as the company has plans to launch a similar type of setup for tops.
Meanwhile, Lululemon has also been focusing on getting men to fall in love with the brand, and it’s paying off. Sales for men’s clothing rose 21% from a year earlier. Men love the company’s ‘ABC’ — or “Anti Ball-Crushing Pants.”
Total revenue for the first quarter of 2016 rose 17% to $496 million, too.
Though sales were positive for the most recent quarter, it’s important for Lululemon not to have any misfires; competition is continuing to increase rapidly.
The athleisure market is incredibly crowded as it stands, and Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank has aggressive expansion plans for its women’s business, to the point that it could overthrow Lululemon’s women’s sector. Recently, Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, went so far to say that the company had “lost its way” in an open letter to shareholders.
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