Lululemon Athletica And RockSalt Pilates: When Fashion Meets Cardio
by Stephan Rabimov | 3/6/2019
Sweat is the new status symbol. Fitness and fashion combine forces to enhance performance in both markets. As a result, more and more people care about looking good while working out. Thanks to viral marketing of partnerships such as Serena Williams with Nike or Dwayne The Rock Johnson with Under Armour, putting in the hours at the gym and feeling stylish are no longer mutually exclusive experiences. The athleisure explosion has leveled the playing field for smart branding opportunities. The trend impacts both the national and local scene. Case in point, the recent Bay Area collaboration between Lululemon Athletica and RockSalt Pilates.
RockSalt Pilates fuses traditional resistance training practices with cardio and upbeat music to offer “addictive full body workout”. With three locations (Redwood City, San Mateo and Potrero Hill), the company is proactively courting Millennial wellness lifestyle enthusiasts. Adrian Ramirez, the founder, is excited about linking up with Lululemon, the brand has pioneered the revolution of athleisure wear, blurring the lines between workout gear and streetwear. “As an emerging brand, we are proud to be considered a global partner with Lululemon,” he said. “Their technology and fabrics lend themselves well to the desires and needs of our customers.” The items in the special RockSalt by Lululemon collection are made from four-way stretch fabric that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, demonstrating an acute understanding of what Pilates practice requires. Each piece is designed in a way that adds flexibility, momentum, and comfort.
Today it’s commonly acceptable to be seen out and about in Lululemon leggings. “The great thing about this collection is its in-and-out of class versatility!” notes Ramirez. In fact, a lot of people who wear fitness clothing have no immediate plans to exercise at all. Both companies are aware of this. While the trend was subject to memes and jokes just a few years back, market research shows the increasing popularity of athleisure among consumers. A 2018 industry-wide study suggests that collaborations between fitness companies and fashion brands are here to stay. “The athleisure movement and influence on fashion continues to be a primary driver of growth opportunity for the apparel industry,” said Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group, in a press release about the survey. “Other apparel categories are declining, which tells us that consumers are getting just what they need and want in athleisure wear.”
This is not Lululemon’s first foray into cross-brand collaborations. They debuted a sneaker line with Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) in 2017 and a limited-edition menswear line with Canadian apparel brand Roden Gray in 2018. The brand also works celebrity trainer Taryn Toomey and Francesca Hayward, the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet of London. In fact, Lululemon’s collaborations may be the secret to their success in this highly competitive niche. An analysis of Lululemon’s inventory turnover found a correlation between the timing of the collaborations and the spike in sales. “By releasing these special edition collections, Lululemon is essentially turning its premium styles into one-of-a-kind collector's items that cultivate a must-buy-now mentality among its loyal customers,” noted a recent report on brand’s marketing practices. Surpassing analysts’ expectations, revenue grew 25% to $723.5 million in 2018!
The growing success of Lululemon and popularity of innovative programs such as RockSalt Pilates indicates society’s move towards understanding wellness as something more than just being physically active; it is a state of mind, the notion of looking good to feel good.