Lululemon returns with Olympic uniforms and ‘anti-ball-crushing’ pants

The Canadian yoga brand is outfitting our Olympic beach volleyball team — just one of its new initiatives.

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Photo courtesy of Lululemon.
Lululemon’s Olympic beach volleyball uniforms. Photo, Lululemon.

For a company that made its fortune in yoga pants, the last few years have been anything but relaxing for Lululemon: You may remember the massive yoga-pant recall of March 2013, which saw many of the company’s pants refunded on account them becoming see-through during workouts. (Bad.) The issue was then compounded by now-departed founder Chip Wilson, who blamed the defect on its wearers, saying some women’s bodies just “don’t work” for their pants. (Very bad.)

So how does a company bounce back from a $67-million PR blunder? More importantly, how can it compete with Beyoncé? For starters, it’ll dress Canada’s Olympic beach volleyball players — a huge publicity coup. But it’s not Lulu’s only creative venture of late. From beer to ball-protecting pants, here’s a survey of company’s newest initiatives.

Olympic-proof bikinis
The state-of-the-art uniforms were incepted in Lululemon’s Star Trek–sounding research-and-development lab, Whitespace. In addition to temperature-stable materials and straps that sit just-right, Lulu’s R&D team used infrared cameras to track the movements of the female athletes’ breasts as they moved, so the bikinis are literally tailor-made to each player. (They also have a motivational reminder to “be in this moment” stitched into the seam, which, aw!)


Related: 30 stylish one-piece bathing suits


A better “pant wall”
In September 2015, the company began organizing its in-store pant selection by “sensation” — as in, “naked” or “held in” — rather than from tightest to loosest fit, so it was easier for customers to find the best match for an activity. Apparently, the change was a success.

Concept stores
More boutique than big-box, Lulu has launched two posh-looking “lab shops” — one in Vancouver and another in New York — each with its own dedicated design team that releases capsule collections of experimental activewear every three months.

Testicle-protecting pants
An obvious move into menswear, the company rolled out its “Anti-Ball Crushing” (ABC) pants that, well, won’t crush your balls. (Watch this humourous explainer video, featuring peanuts.) Bolstered by a dedicated men’s store, which opened in New York in 2014, the company hopes its foray into menswear will help it break $1-billion in revenue by 202o.

Beer
Last year, Vancouver-based brewery Stanley Park produced 88,000 cans of Lululemon’s Curiosity Lager; this year, it’s Courageous Blonde, a lager-like brew with”a subdued fruitiness” and “light to medium bitterness.”

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