- Lululemon just made good on its promise to enter footwear, starting its foray into the category with a collection specifically focused on the women's market. The company is planning to launch four women's styles this year.
- Blissfeel, Lululemon's first running shoe, will be available online and in stores in select markets beginning March 22. Chargefeel, a cross training shoe; Restfeel, an "elevated slide;" and Strongfeel, a training shoe, will all be released in the coming months.
- Lululemon will also enter the men's footwear market, but not until 2023, according to a company press release.
Lululemon has been prepping to enter the footwear space for years, a move that puts it in more direct competition with brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, and gives it another growth driver. Now, Lululemon's first offerings in the category are set to launch, tackling a variety of different exercises, as well as post-workout.
A running shoe is the first of the products from Lululemon to debut, with a planned launch later this month. The Blissfeel will come in 10 different colors. After that, the company's cross-training shoe and post-workout slide will be available starting in the summer, and its training shoe will debut last, in the fall.
"Footwear is the natural next step for us to expand and apply our long history of innovation in fit, feel and performance, and it represents an exciting moment for our brand," CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement. "We are entering the footwear category the same way we built our apparel business — with products designed to solve unmet needs, made for women first."
Lululemon applied insights from its performance apparel products to the footwear collection, and said the styles are based on research around how women uniquely move. According to Chief Product Officer Sun Choe, the retailer started its footwear business with the women's market because performance shoes are "more often than not … designed for men and then adapted for women."
"That didn't sit well with us," Choe said in a statement. "Innovating for women is in lululemon's DNA — now we're bringing that same expertise to footwear, and women were part of this journey every step of the way."
The battle for athletics market share over the past several years has been, in many ways, a battle for the female athlete. Women have historically been underserved by athletics retailers.
The prioritization of the men's market means that much of the growth in the athletics space is in women's, and many of the largest retailers have begun shifting their strategies to capitalize on growth in that space, which has been catered to instead by startups and women-focused retailers like Athleta and Lululemon. Adidas just last month launched a sports bra collection that includes 43 different styles and 72 different sizes, while Nike for the past few years has identified women's as a growth market and targeted it with launches like its first maternity collection.