Home yoga Building Athleisure Brands: From Lululemon to Alo Yoga

Building Athleisure Brands: From Lululemon to Alo Yoga

by Marianne Navada

Cover Photo: Mirror

Originally published July 2, 2020 and updated February 15, 2024

For athleisure brands, it’s not enough to sell clothes. Lululemon reached a deal to acquire Mirror, an at-home workout platform for $500 million. Mirror offers on-demand workout sessions and virtual classes. “One of the best inventions of 2018” according to Time, the acquisition signals Lululemon as more than an athleisure clothing company, but as an “experimental brand” that promotes the “sweatlife”. As of 2023, however, Lululemon has decided throw the towel on Mirror and strike a deal with Peloton to share content instead. Lesson learned the hard way that selling clothes doesn’t always translate to selling tech hardware.

But Lululemon is still a brand that wants to be known beyond clothes.

Lululemon is purpose-driven and is positioned well to continue to inspire guests living the sweatlife across multiple experiences.

Calvin McDonald | CEO Lululemon 2019

Building Community

Even though Mirror might have been a bad investment for Lululemon, building a fitness-driven community in real life still works. Lululemon also opened an “experimental store” in Chicago. The 20,000 square foot space has a restaurant and bar, complete with meditation rooms and yoga classes. Fitness instructors have always been key to selling workout clothes and what better way to shop right after you workout.

Other athleisure companies have expanded their products beyond clothing to foster a more loyal and vibrant community. Alo Yoga purchased Codyapp, now Alo Moves, a subscription based fitness and wellness platform. They have also expanded their line to beauty products. Nike also has stores with “live” experiences and there’s the Nike Training Club app. But the Mirror clearly ia a step above when it comes to technology. But regardless of its tech achievement, its use-cases and the price limits its audience. To track progress and feel a part of a community, Apple Fitness+, works well. It’s an app, which can be accessed via Apple TV, mobile devices, or desktop. Moreover, if you are part of the Apple eco-system and have the watch, its integration is seamless. You don’t need fancy workout-specific tech gadgets for it to work.

As the creator of athleisure, Lululemon enjoyed dominance for some time, but has recently faced competition from young brands such as Alo yoga and celebrity-backed lines. I remember a few years ago when almost everyone in a yoga class wore Lulu, top to bottom. There’s certainly more variety of brands now.

Did You Know?

Brynn Putnam, CEO and founder of Mirror, started her career as a professional ballet dancer and graduated from Harvard University.

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