Art or Clothing? The Lululemon way.

Posted on December 21, 2010

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The sun seems to shine indefinitely on clothing brand Lululemon, despite being born in Canada’s rainiest city, Vancouver, BC.  It recently gained praise from Oprah Winfrey, seen soaring profits and success through e-commerce.  This success has not gone to the yoga fashionistas heads though and they continue to focus on what their client needs and wants.  So, it is not surprising that they have taken clothing production to the next level, with the recent inception of lululab.   Times have been tough for retailers, so why not have everything from designers, test swatches, sewing and sales all under one, very high ceiling?

Luluemon isn’t a name often uttered in Europe, yet, but they are something of an institution in their hometown of Vancouver and their quiet revolution has built up an army of converts, myself included. We all know that exercise creates endorphins which lead to happiness, so is it really surprising that a fitness retailer hiring staff who live actively, would produce happy staff?

Well, I would say possibly yes, in a time where most employers focus on cutting costs and raising profits. But Lululemon instead concentrates on the wellbeing of their staff and their life progression. Each employee focuses on their personal and career goals, and talks openly about where they see themselves in the future, whether they are in store educators, designers or seamstresses.  They have also created a communicative community that ensures the elite nature of their clothing, particularly in the lab.

The production workshop looks straight out onto the shop floor

Creativity and staff input can be seen across the space...even their heights are all marked on the wall.

Designers sit down once a month to acquire the expertise of those wearing their clothing. They talk to athletes, yoga instructors etc. It is not only the experts who can give input. We the customers can too. By having everyone under one roof and regular shoppers able to stop by and chat to the designers, the public can give their own feedback.  Women’s designer Sherry Perrault explained that this is the joy of working in the lab, namely the opportunity to easily connect with your designs on different levels.  Sherry can spend the morning chatting to a long distance runner about what she looks for in an outfit, create a sketch and then pop over to the production staff to see if her suggested material will be suitable.  Sherry explained how much more creative the setting is to her, surrounded by not only her finished products and usual mood boards but also the patrons.

Designer Sherry Perrault working on a design in store

Lab specific clothing being manufactured.

In the exercise capital of Canada it is hard to leave the house without seeing woman adorned in the elite yoga brand. And now they have managed to create a new status symbol.  A logo created specifically for Lululab clothing, white as opposed to the standard black. Transformation.  A tag, which tells everyone the clothing you are wearing is part of a limited run, and that less than 50 other people in the world will own the same design.  With this kind of collection it is easy to draw comparisons between the clothing and pieces of artwork. With Christmas fast approaching and New Year’s resolutions for more exercise, why not capture your own piece of limited edition art, designed by Sherry and her colleagues, without fear of it falling apart by the end of Boxing Day.  And if there is any damage done, you simply take it straight back to the lab to be fixed onsite, what more could Santa’s patrons ask for ?

Each staff member has their own mood board in store, seen behind Oli Dutkowski as she works on the Lab social media accounts.

Since opening twins Leilei and Siboney have become regulars in the lab.

Jacq Smith reflects Lululemon's dedication to staff progression, working as an educator whilst in training for design.

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Posted in: Canada, Photography