Lululemon launches into footwear to take on industry giants like Nike

Lululemon launches into footwear to take on industry giants like Nike

September 2, 2022:- Lululemon is venturing into footwear, marking a new product category for the maker of leggings and sports bras and deepening its rivalry with giants such as Nike and Adidas.

The company’s first-ever running shoe for women, Blissfeel, will purchase starting March 22 in select markets across North America, Mainland China, and the United Kingdom. The running shoes will retail for $148.

The launch marks Lululemon’s official foray into the sneaker category, having only previously sold a small collection of shoes from Athletic Propulsion Labs. For women and men, the footwear business could prove to be another critical lever of growth for the athletic clothing retailer as it seeks to catch its larger competitors.

Sneaker sales have boomed in the pandemic as more consumers pick up running or opt for more comfortable shoes while working from home. It’s an incredibly heated category with competitors ranging from giants like Nike and On Running to more niche brands like Allbirds, making a running shoe.

Lululemon said it is aiming to launch a men’s footwear collection next year, at which point it will expand its selection for women with special-edition shoes and seasonal sneakers.

In the meantime, Lululemon said it would debut two types of women’s cross-training sneakers this summer, which is pricing at $138 and $148, followed by a slide-on shoe meant for post-workout wear, at $58, and one more training sneaker with a more supportive midsole, at $128.

The launch checks off a long-awaited goal for Lululemon and Chief Executive Calvin McDonald.

Back in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald said the company saw whitespace in the shoe market. He hinted that Lululemon would begin selling its footwear at some point, building on the success it had with APL.

On Tuesday, McDonald said in a statement that branching into the footwear market was the next natural step for the company.

“It represents an exciting moment for our brand,” he said. “We are entering the footwear category the same way we built our apparel business with products designed to solve unmet needs, made for women first.”

According to data from market research firm NPD Group, athletic footwear sales in the United States grew 17% for men and 24% for women in 2021 compared with 2020 levels.

According to NPD sports analyst Matt Powell, the top sneaker brands for women, notably, are Nike, Skechers, Adidas, Brooks, and New Balance. Powell said he anticipates sales of both women’s and men’s sports footwear will grow a low-single-digit percentage this year, coming off of last year’s gains, with the first half of 2022 facing more significant challenges for the industry than the latter half.