New reporting from the frontlines of the athleisure movement indicates that people not only love soft, stretchy pants, they are willing to pay an outrageous markup to buy them second-hand. According to Racked, as long as the gear carries the logo of Lululemon, secondhand sellers easily fetch several hundred dollars for pre-owned foldover-waist leggings, thick-strapped tank tops, and very small shorts.
“Once I saw a Lululemon Define Jacket in Royalty Space Dye sell at auction for $500!” the unnamed blogger and collector from Lululemonexpert.com told Racked. “These jackets retail for $99. This particular color first appeared in Hong Kong in late July of 2011. How does a jacket fetch over five times its retail value within two years of being released? Simply put, it’s Lululemon.”
Lululemon’s corporate culture—calling its store associates “educators” and managers “key leaders,” and sending employees for self-improvement at the Landmark Forum—has earned it comparisons to a cult. But it seems to be a limited-edition manufacturing practice that creates scarcity and drives the deep desire for, say, “Beachscape Wunder Under Pants.” (In lieu of a comment, a Lululemon representative directed us to the company’s policy regarding resale.)
The customers who are buying (and re-buying) into Lululemon—or selling it—sound like hype-stoked sneakerheads, or other obsessive collectors who frequent websites such as Purse Forum to discuss the finer points of Chanel 2.55 handbags. That said, as Racked noted, some of the more than 100 Facebook forums dedicated to Lululemon resale discourage the type of price gouging that happens on eBay.
After the launch of the designer athletic wear site Net-a-Sporter, and the umpteenth high fashion name to enter the realm of exercise clothing, the demand for secondhand Lululemon gear is an indicator that athleisure is entering the realm of, er, athluxury.