Lululemon is training a whole new generation of yoga enthusiasts with a brand targeting girls as young as six.
Ivivva Athletica, pronounced “ih — vee — va,” has been quietly opening stores across the U.S. and Canada since 2009.
The brand targets girls between the ages of 6 and 15 years old with brightly-coloured sports bras, leggings, yoga pants, leotards, jackets and hoodies made from the same materials as Lululemon apparel. The apparel runs in sizes 4 to 14.
The clothing is cheaper than Lululemon’s, but it’s substantially more expensive than most girls’ activewear.
Like its parent company, Ivivva hosts in-store yoga, Zumba and other athletic classes. The brand’s Facebook page, which has more than 47,800 fans, is teeming with photographs of young girls dancing, stretching, and striking poses in their Ivivva apparel.
“These leggings are perfect for dance, yoga etc as well as school and sleepovers with your BFFs,” one happy customer wrote on the company’s website about the “rhythmic tight” leggings.
Another customer wrote of the “dedication pant,” “I wear these pants basically, every day, or whenever I can. I COMMAND YOU TO BUY THESE PANTS!!! Seriously I will die if you don’t buy these pants!”
Ivivva’s same-store sales surged 17% in the most recent quarter, Lululemon Chief Financial Officer John Currie said in last month’s earnings call.
“It’s actually becoming a really significant growth driver as we look forward,” Currie said. “So we are looking to increase our store rollout in Ivivva for next year.”
The first Ivivva stores opened in 2009 in Canada and the website was launched in 2011. The company now has 21 stores and showrooms in the U.S. and 11 in Canada. The U.S. locations include Dallas, Houston, Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Mo., Bellevue, Wash. and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The showrooms are “smaller, cozier versions of our retail stores with a limited selection of products,” according to Lululemon spokeswoman Alecia Pulman.
“We open showrooms to become part of the community to share our culture, work with local athletes and provide a retail location that is unique to that area,” she said. “During the week, we may host private get-togethers, plan community events, and act as a hub on where guests can find great classes, or just have a good time in the neighbourhood.”
During community events, the Ivivva team seeks girls’ input and feedback “on every aspect of the brand, from store design to music to product, which has contributed to its connection with guests and its growth,” she said.
While the brand claims that its clothes “often outlast our growing young athletes with our high-quality standards,” some customers have been experiencing pilling problems similar to those that we reported on at Lululemon, according to reviews posted on Ivivva’s website.
“These were great for the first two months but then they started pilling!” one customer wrote last month of the “rhythmic tight” leggings. “I got them less than six months ago and the pilling makes them almost unwearable, but worse they’re beginning to get see through!”
Another customer wrote in June 2013: “After one wash, the pants started to pill.”
A majority of the reviews are positive, however, and girls seem to love the brand.
Pulman said Ivivva plans to more stores and showrooms in the U.S. in 2014, but did not specify a number.
Here are two models wearing clothing and a headband made by Ivivva:
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