Lululemon’s Taking on Everyday Wear in Its Hybrid Design Studio-Retail Store

One would be hard-pressed to walk into a New York or Los Angeles boutique fitness studio and not find half the clientele sporting the tiny but instantly recognizable Lululemon logo on their derrières. The brand that began in 1998 in Vancouver, Canada, as part yoga studio, part clothing shop has become one of the biggest names in the athletic apparel world. But it wants to take over more markets. So in 2009, it launched a “lab”—a conceptual design and retail space that bears little resemblance to traditional Lululemon stores—in Vancouver, and added another this year in downtown New York. “While the lab is part of Lululemon’s greater design team, the concept is geared toward creating beautiful apparel that men and women can wear every day, versus for a specific activity,” explained the brand’s head designer Marcus LeBlanc. Since the space serves as both retail store and a real-life work studio, it must be versatile enough to accommodate the eight retail staffers, four designers, three sample sewers, two pattern makers and one merchandiser, all of whom need the space to function in specific ways.

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