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THE HOME STRETCH

Even lockdown life couldn’t kill the market for $100 yoga pants

Clothes are displayed in a Lululemon Athletica retail store
Reuters/Brendan McDermid
Shoppers kept buying Lululemon’s clothes even if they were locked out of their gyms and yoga studios.
  • Marc Bain
By Marc Bain

Fashion reporter

Nobody knows or cares what people wear when they’re working out at home, but shoppers are still shelling out plenty of cash for Lululemon’s pricey activewear.

The company reported yesterday (March 30) that sales for 2020 reached $4.4 billion, a roughly 24% rise over the previous year. While the pandemic did cause a steep drop in sales in the middle of the year, they have rebounded quickly because of strong demand for Lululemon’s $100 yoga pants and other products.

Lululemon could potentially surpass Nike as the top women’s activewear brand in the US this year, according to an estimate from research firm NPD Group. Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said on a call to discuss its results that based on NPD’s data the company increased its market share in adult activewear in the US over 2020.

Lululemon is among the companies that have benefitted most in recent years from the search for style alongside function. While gyms and yoga studios may be places we go to exercise and get sweaty, they’re also public spaces where many of us still want to look our best, especially as interest in fitness overall continues to rise.

But the company pointed to its ability to design high-performance products as the driving force behind its success in 2020. “Last year, while guests adapted to the new normal of working and sweating from home, their desire for technical athletic apparel that seamlessly transitions with them from activity to activity remains strong, and we delivered,” Sun Choe, Lululemon’s chief product officer, said on the call. McDonald, meanwhile, highlighted Lululemon’s performance fabrics.

Lululemon expects many former gym-goers to continue exercising at home, even as vaccination rates rise and facilities fully reopen. McDonald said the convenience of at-home workouts was becoming increasingly attractive even before the pandemic, and that’s unlikely to change. It’s part of the reason the company acquired the fitness platform Mirror last year. In 2020, Mirror brought in $170 million in revenue, and Lululemon expects that figure will grow to between $250 million and $275 million in 2021.

Other companies also remain optimistic about the at-home workout market. Tonal, the home fitness startup whose investors include tennis champion Serena Williams, basketball star Stephen Curry, and a host of other athletes, announced today (March 31) that it raised $250 million in new funding, valuing the company at $1.6 billion.

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