Lululemon Men tweeted the address of their first Men’s Lululemon location the other day and it is quite close to the SOHO Lululemon store. Here is a street view of the location on 127 Prince Street in Manhattan.
A few years ago I would have said that there is no chance Lululemon has much traction in the men’s line, especially in Canada where the men scoffed at going into the stores with their wives and girlfriends. Lululemon, for men in Vancouver was a much harder market to crack since it was seen as a women’s only line, or as the men in my life called it ‘for the ladies’. They would wear the clothing, but only if the wives purchased it for them. Smart men knew that going in to the store for errands for their wives meant being treated like royalty by the educators. Just recently, my brother in law (who you would never expect would like Lululemon) asked me what Lulu pants my husband was wearing (Seawall Lined Track Pant) because he really wanted a pair for himself. And then I saw the weirdest thing. On Thursday I went in to return an item to the Coquitlam store and there were two men in line ahead of me – they were burly blue collar construction worker types and they each had at least three items to purchase. The one guy said to the other ‘I’m stocking up on these pants (pointing to the pants he was wearing) because they are so great for work’. And they were very engaged in conversation with the educators about the product. These where not the athletic types that have more readily embraced lululemon but a completely different demographic of men that have resisted, more of the weekend warrior type of guy. It was striking to me to see these two guys enthusiastic about buying lululemon, on their own, without wives or girlfriends as chaperones. When I was in New York a few weeks ago, I saw a ton of men walking around in full lululemon outfits. Much more than I saw women wearing Lululemon.
Lululemon isn’t simply opening up a men’s department in a stand alone store, they are branding an entire line with a dedicated social media stream, blog posts with male athletes, male centric topics and great burly and edgy photography – not the yoga centric lululemon of the past, not the lululemon that marketed to men through their wives. I think that, above all else, this is what is expanding this market for Lululemon very successfully. The fact that they recognize that if they want the general male customer and not just a niche, then they need to market to them in a very different way than they do to women, because men have always loved the product, they just didn’t like to admit it. I’m curious what the new stores will be called and what it will look like.
Here is a time magazine article about the new Lululemon Men’s store in SoHo.