Lululemon shoes mark new product to take on Nike and Adidas

Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said getting into shoes was the natural next step for the leggings maker.

Source: Lululemon

Lululemon is venturing into footwear, marking a new product category for the maker of leggings and sports bras and deepening its rivalry with giants like Nike and Adidas.

The company’s first-ever women’s running shoe, called Blissfeel, will be available for purchase from March 22 in select markets in North America, mainland China and the United Kingdom. The running shoes will cost $148.

The launch marks Lululemon’s official foray into the sneaker category, having previously only sold a small collection of shoes from Athletic Propulsion Labs. The footwear sector, for women and men, could prove to be another important growth driver for the sportswear retailer as it seeks to catch up with its biggest competitors.

Sneaker sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic as more consumers take up running or opt for more comfortable footwear while working from home. It’s an incredibly passionate category with competitors ranging from giants like Nike and On Running to more niche brands like Allbirds, who also make a running shoe.

Lululemon has announced plans to launch a men’s shoe collection next year, when it will expand its women’s selection with special-edition shoes and seasonal sneakers.

Meanwhile, Lululemon has announced that it will launch two types of women’s cross-training sneakers this summer, priced at $138 and $148, followed by a slip-on shoe intended for post-workout wear, at $58. $, and another training sneaker with a more supportive midsole, at $128.

Lululemon will start this year by launching a running shoe and other options for women, followed by a men’s shoe collection in 2023.

Source: Lululemon

The launches mark a long-awaited goal for Lululemon and CEO Calvin McDonald.

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald’s said the company saw white space in the footwear market. He hinted that at some point Lululemon would start selling its own shoes, building on the success it had with APL.

McDonald’s said in a statement Tuesday that jumping into the footwear market was the natural next step for the company.

“This represents an exciting time for our brand,” he said. “We enter the footwear category the same way we built our apparel business – with products designed to address unmet needs, designed for women first.”

US athletic shoe sales increased 17% for men and 24% for women in 2021 from 2020 levels, according to data from market research firm NPD Group.

The top women’s sneaker brands include Nike, Skechers, Adidas, Brooks and New Balance, according to NPD sports analyst Matt Powell. Powell said he expects sales of women’s and men’s athletic shoes to rise by single-digit percentages this year, following last year’s gains, with the first half of 2022 facing greater challenges for industry than the second half.

Early last year, another round of government stimulus checks propelled consumer spending, Powell said. And many shoppers opted for a new pair of shoes.

Lululemon’s sales for the 12 months ended January 31, 2021 rose to $4.4 billion from $3.98 billion a year earlier. Its stock is down more than 20% since the start of the year.

Nike, by comparison, posted revenue of $44.5 billion in its fiscal year ended May 31, up 19% from year-ago levels. Adidas has yet to report its results for 2021. Its revenue for the 12 months ended December 31, 2020 was €19.8 billion, or approximately $21.6 billion.

James T. Quintero