Back in December I came across a Credit Suisse analyst report suggesting that Lululemon may in future choose to open up other avenues of growth by using different channels from brick and mortar stores and strategic sales partner stores such as wholesaling and stores within stores. I didn’t make much of this at the time or think this was likely to occur as Lululemon has such a strong and unique corporate culture that it would be hard to maintain that in another department store with non lululemon employees that have not been indoctrinated in the Lulu ways.

The other day I posted about this Gratitude Jacket clone that was found on the Neiman Markus website. It is an almost identical replica of the Lululemon Gratitude Wrap that many of us have been hoping would make a return soon, right down to the signature double cuffed, thumbhole on the sleeves. It struck me as odd that the NM jacket was only available in black and it made me think that if Lululemon wanted to liquidated items in other venues secretly they would likely make changes to the garment such as remove the logo, change a few pieces of hardware that contain the logo and also not liquidate items in signature lulu colors. It’s a common practice but not commonly known that big name retailers liquidate items to other stores such as Winners, Ross Dress for Less and on ebay. As a Canadian I’m not very familiar with NM and where they source their outside brands, but a reader who has spoken with a NM employee said “So, I talked a NM employee and her rep said this is a new line they’ll be carrying made by the same people who make Lululemon… so in other words, Lululemon is making a line for NM!!!!” The problem with doing this openly is that it cheapens the brand somewhat which is why it is done quietly by most brands. So why wouldn’t Lululemon just re-release the Gratitude Wrap in their own stores? Maybe this is a way for them to test the waters as wholesalers and see what the response is at NM? I know several readers are going to NM to purchase these jackets at $125 because they have been such hot ticket sellers on ebay at up to $250 because they are so hard to find and so coveted.  Based on the popularity of this item and that brand followers are now in the know of it’s location at NM I’m sure this will be a successful endeavor for Lululemon.

What worries me about these changes is that the report by Credit Suisse also suggested that at times of growth like what Lululemon has had this past year, companies like Nike take great interest in overtaking the competiter brands, especially since Nike is lacking in a such a comprehensive line of women’s sports apparel.  Is this a sign of things to come with Lululemon? This may be a great thing for shareholders but what about us brand loyal customers? What changes will we see as customers?

Excerpt from Credit Suisse Analyst Report

Neiman Markus Funnel-Collar Jacket 

Lululemon Gratitude Wrap

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