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lululemon Newcastle – here’s what I think

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Search the name “lululemon” in any news source and you may be surprised by the number of times it is mentioned. 

An activewear brand that refers to itself as athletic apparel, its success appears to be that it can keep its name at the forefront of water-cooler conversations around the globe. 

And, perhaps even more surprisingly, it is almost always spoken of in a positive way. 

Founded in 1998 by Canadian Chip Wilson, and opening its first store in Vancouver in November 2000, lululemon has attracted more than 325,000 followers to its social media sites and more than 10 million subscribers.

This month the brand, pronounced “loo-loo-lemon”, opened its first non-Sydney-based NSW retail store at Newcastle’s Westfield Kotara. 

It is the ninth NSW outlet and the 36th to open in Australia since it arrived Down Under in 2004. 

lululemon – what’s all the fuss about?

After it launched online in 2009, lululemon (yes, its deliberately all lower-case) was named the fastest growing global retail brand in 2020. 

And, while the world was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, it continued to defy the odds, growing in popularity before posting a profit of $2.8 billion in 2021. 

So, why is it so popular?

Well, lululemon doesn’t sign high-profile athletes to spruce its wares, it doesn’t prioritise billboard advertising and has limited television campaigns compared to other sports brands.

It prefers to rely on lesser known relatable influencers and word-of-mouth.

Through its ambassador program local lululemon stores partner with a small number of local yoga instructors, offering them free clothing in exchange for teaching free in-store classes.

By all accounts it’s a business model that sells itself.

If you were to ask me what the fuss is all about I’d say it’s about the feels.

I mean literally feel the fabrics.

As a 40-something year-old mother-of-two who dreams of being as active as she was in her 20s (but sadly is far from it), I dare you to walk into the new Kotara store and feel the items and not want to put them close to your skin. 

In fact, even the hangers feel delightfully smooth to the touch. 

Yes the store is fresh and contemporary and spacious, but it is the men’s and women’s clothing that you’ll just want to touch, inside and out.

I heard the lululemon team describe the fabrics as “buttery” at this week’s belated store opening event.

Despite being a journalist who should have an extensive vocabulary, this seems the best word to use to describe the feel of each and every piece in the store.

lululemon opens in Kotara

In fact in its marketing lululemon claims to be setting the bar in technical fabrics and functional designs.

For me, it was being told the that the extra elastic between the zip and the toggle is actually an emergency hair tie. Mind blown. thank you lulu.

And, for those lucky enough to be working hybrid, wouldn’t it be great if lululemon could be classified as a “work uniform” for your desk job? – stretchy, soft leggings, tanks, and layering of fleecy hoodies.

I’d call it blurring the lines between feeling active and comfortable, striving for work-life balance. 

While staff at the new Kotara store proudly rattled off the features and benefits of the brand’s range, I met a woman in the changerooms who was experiencing her first visit to the upstairs store. 

Aged in her 70s she said she had no idea that the clothing would feel as good on her self-described “aging body”. I could see it in her eyes that she was now hooked.

She’s not alone, the brand’s loyal followers, spanning 26 countries globally, are referred to as ‘luluheads’ and they range in age from teens to (now 70s).

These people have bought into the brand’s philosophy that ‘We live a life we love‘.

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