The lululemon athletica brand takes the in-store experience to a whole new level. Since its founding in 1998, lululemon has taken a direct interest in their customers’ well-being and local community. Even with their first store opening in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver, it was clear that the cultural bond between brand and consumer was vital for lululemon. This mentality combined with their in-store tools is what sets the brand apart, creating a vast group of faithful and devoted fans.
Based in Vancouver BC, lululemon is known for their athletic apparel, including clothing for yoga, running and any other “sweaty pursuits.” Customers can not only buy clothing and merchandise but they can also sign up for in-store events ranging from workshops, runs and yoga classes, offered on a weekly basis and tailored to the local surroundings. To personalize the in-store experience, lululemon educators and community ambassadors can be found in every store to talk to customers about healthy living, yoga, exercise etc. The ambassadors program is composed of individuals who adhere to the same lifestyle and cultural ideals of lululemon, and can share their expertise with the local community.
MiND met up with Julia Brunzell, Manager of Store Design at lululemon atheletica to discuss the unique in-store experience that the brand provides.
The first lululemon store shared its retail space with a yoga studio. How has the store design developed over the last 16 years?
Julie Brunzell: “We are constantly listening to feedback about how guests experience our stores and how they function for our educators. Every store designer works in the stores to experience firsthand how the space is used, what works best for flow, product visibility and efficiency. In addition, we want every store to feel like a part of its community from the first day it opens; we invite our guests to hang out, chat with our educators and learn about local yoga/fitness studios. Every week, our stores push aside their product fixtures and open the store up to the community for a complimentary yoga class.
Our stores are designed to be conversation starters, while also being fundamentally warm, inviting, eclectic and accessible to everyone. Over the years our fixtures have become more streamlined, modern and modular which allows for flexibility and creativity with visual displays. We are known for our unique, creative and locally relevant storefront designs which range from making a big design statement to a fun reflection of the community we are joining. For example, our Burlington, VT location is a strong ski community so we used two gondolas as benches outside to create an eye-catching and locally relevant storefront. At our Houston Galleria mall location, we designed our storefront using glass windows that look like those from a space shuttle, a nod to the nearby Houston Space Centre.”
There have also been many changes within the lululemon brand. Recently, the brand has launched a new fast fashion clothing line, &Go. With apparel ranging from dresses to pants and tank tops, the line is set to be offered online and storewide. With this change comes another in the men’s clothing division. Lululemon is set to open a standalone men’s store by 2016. The brand offers a range of men’s clothing on its website, including jackets, hoodies, pants, socks and underwear. Finally, with lululemon’s latest expansion into the European market, it will be interesting to see how these developments continue to affect the stores and brands initiatives worldwide.
Will these changes and expansions affect the store design concepts as well? Will consumers begin to see larger stores, pop up shops etc. to showcase the new clothing lines?
Julie Brunzell: “As a company focused on innovation, we are always evaluating how we design our stores and with that comes continuous examination of layout principles, space planning, size and location. We aim to create community and shopping experiences that speak to our guests and settings which vary from city to city. Entrepreneurship is one of our core business values and as a business that is grounded in community, we enable and support store managers to have a hand in creating spaces that resonate with their guests and their community.”