If you are in USA or Canada, you must have either bought Lululemon clothing or at least considered buying Lululemon. Even if Lululemon clothes are highly sought after, people tend to have different questions about the brand. One of the most commonly asked questions is whether Lululemon is a fast fashion.
Lululemon is not a fast fashion since Lulu’s products are sold at a high price; they are high quality and last a long time. Indeed, even if Lululemon introduces new products every week and manufactures most of its products in countries with low production costs, the emphasis on the quality of the products sold makes them durable. As such, Lululemon is not fast fashion.
This article discusses whether Lululemon should be considered a fast-fashion or not. By reading the article, you will understand what fast fashion is and the specific features that make a fashion brand qualify to be considered fast fashion. Lastly, you will find out if Lululemon should be considered fast fashion.
Background of Lululemon
Lululemon Athletica, commonly referred to as Lululemon, is a Canadian American multinational athletic apparel designer, manufacturer, and retailer headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.
The company was established in 1988 as a retailer of Yoga wear. However, since then, Lululemon has expanded to the extent that it now sells athletic wear, lifestyle apparel, accessories, and care products.
As of March 2022, Lululemon had more than 550 stores in different countries. The company also has an online store that allows customers to buy Lulu products online and deliver them to their specific addresses.
Even though Lululemon sells different products, Lulu’s Iconic Align Yoga is one of the most popular product lines sold by the company. The product line comprises leggings, pants, joggers, and sports bras.
What is Fast Fashion?
The phrase ‘fast fashion’ was initially used In 1990 by New York Times as it reported about Zara’s objective of developing new designs and having them displayed on storefronts within a maximum of 15 days.
To understand fast fashion, it is essential to analyze different definitions of fast fashion.
According to Fletcher, fashion involves low-cost clothing collections based on the present, high-cost luxury fashion trends. It is, by nature, a swift response system that encourages disposability.
Ethical Consumer, on the other hand, described fast fashion as a fashion trend characterized by fastness since it involves fast production (clothes manufacturers are under pressure to manufacture clothes more rapidly), fast sales, and delivery (customers can even buy clothes on credit and pay for them later using Klarna and other credit services), and fast use (clothes are only worn 14 times and then disposed of).
From a closer look at the two different definitions of fast fashion, it can be noted that for a fashion brand to be considered fast fashion, the clothing and apparel must be cheap, mass-produced, trendy, and quickly disposable after being worn for a few times.
Why Lululemon Can’t Be Considered Fast Fashion
Now that we have reviewed what fast fashion entails, it is time we take a closer look at Lululemon’s operations and find out whether the processes and products offered by the company are aligned with fast-fashion or not.
To begin with, we look at different aspects of Lululemon’s operations that make the company not qualify to be referred to as fast fashion.
Lululemon Products Are Durable
As we saw from the definition of fast fashion, products considered to be fast fashion are only used for a brief period before they are disposed of. Indeed, in the definition given by Ethical Consumer, fast fashion clothes are only worn 14 times.
According to a study that we carried out online involving 50 individuals who own various Lululemon clothing products, all the 50 respondents were asked their views on whether Lululemon clothing are durable in an online poll. From the analysis of the responses collected, 100% of the respondents indicated that Lululemom is durable.
To verify that our research findings were valid, we randomly analyzed ten reviews given by Lululemon customers on the company’s website on the durability of Lululemon products. From the analysis of the 10 randomly picked reviews, 9 (90%) of the reviews indicated that Lululemon leggings are indeed durable- see an example of the review below.
Thus, considering that Lululemon products are durable, it can be argued that as far as durability of Lululemon is concerned, Lululemon is not a fast fashion.
Lululemon Products Are Not Cheap
All fast fashion products are cheap. The low price is justified because the products are supposed to be used for a short period and then replaced with other new designs.
When you take a closer look at the prices of different clothing products sold by Lululemon, you find that the prices are not cheap. Indeed, the average cost of Lulu’s leggings is $98 – $128 hence the reason many people ask whether Lululemon leggings are worth it.
Moreover, even if you compared Lululemon bra prices, you find that the average starting price of the bras sold by Lululemon is $40. While you compare that price with other bras such as Hanes that start at $8, it becomes clear that Lululemon is not a fast fashion as the prices are indeed high.
Use Of High-Quality Material
One of the significant reasons why Lululemon clothings are expensive is because the clothing are made from proprietary fabrics. In this case, proprietary fabrics comprise fabrics that are researched and developed by Lululemon to have specific unique features that make them better than other competing products in the market.
The revolutionary fabrics by Lululemon are patented by the company and have all the features that one would want to have in adaptable activewear. However, it is not possible to have patents for fast fashion since the patents will drive the cost of the designs higher, thus making the clothing expensive.
Moreover, getting a patent approved will take an extended period, which is contrary to the fast-fashion concept since, as already pointed out, fast fashion involves fast production, fast sales, and fast use.
However, it should be noted that even if Lululemon products are made from high-quality materials, many customers who have bought Lulu’s products have occasionally complained about different quality issues. For example, customers have complained that Lululemon leggings are itchy, have holes, and pill a lot.
Lululemon Offers Practical Lifetime Warranty
While compared to other fashion brands, Lululemon has arguably one of the best product warranties. Specifically, the company states that it prides itself on creating long-lasting gear guaranteed within the practical lifetime.
If Lululemon was a fast fashion, the company would not offer any warranty since fast fashion products are expected to last a short period. Indeed, the warranty offered by Lululemon indicates that the company expects its products to last a long time, which is contrary to the concept of fast fashion.
Why Lululemon Can Be Considered Fast Fashion
As we have seen in the previous section, there are various features of Lululemon operations that don’t qualify Lululemon to be considered fast fashion. Let’s now look at some of Lululemon’s elements that make the company qualify as a fast fashion.
Some Of Lululemon’s Marketing Strategies Align With Fast Fashion Model
One of the central precepts of fast fashion is that the products sold are trendy and in style. When you look at Lululemon’s marketing strategies, it has positioned its products as trendy and highly innovative.
Indeed, when consumers purchase Lululemon products, they are convinced that they are buying the latest fashion trends. This is a key aspect of fast fashion since it is believed that fast fashion always has to feature trendy designs.
Specifically, the fact that the company introduces new products at least once a week means that Lululemon has some aspects of fast fashion.
Some Of Lululemon Clothing Are Produced In Countries With Low Production Costs
One of the notable elements of fast fashion is that the new trendy designs are produced at a low cost, thus making it easy for fashion brands to sell the products at low prices and still make profits.
Many fashion brands that have embraced the fast-fashion concept have outsourced most manufacturing to companies based in countries with low production costs. Some of these countries comprise China, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Cyprus, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
According to Cox and Stephenson, Lululemon manufactures its products in different countries comprising Canada, the United States, Peru, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Switzerland.
From a closer look at the countries where Lululemon produces its products, it can be noted that the majority of these countries are developing and classified as either low or medium-income earning countries. Countries like China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Peru, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam are known to have low labor costs, and even if Lululemon might not openly admit it, the low production costs in these countries are among the main reason why the company has manufacturing based in these countries.
Thus, the fact that Lululemon has the majority of manufacturing of its products in countries with low labor costs implies that some elements of the company’s operations process show that Lululemon is a fast fashion.
Uses Synthetic Fabrics That Are Not Environmentally Friendly
For fast fashion to sell trendy products at low prices, it relies on synthetic fabrics. The main reason fast fashion uses synthetic fibers is that the fibers are considerably cheaper compared to natural fibers.
Moreover, since the fabrics are synthetic, fabric manufacturers can customize them to ensure that they are ideal for specific products. For example, Lululemon leggings are made from nylon, lycra, and elastane blends which are lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking.
By using synthetic fabrics, fast fashion has devastating impacts on the environment. Specifically, the production of synthetic fabrics results in the contamination of freshwater. For example, Levi Strauss has reported that producing a pair of jeans emits as much carbon as driving a car for 80 miles.
Likewise, producing an ordinary pair of jeans requires 1800 gallons of water, while World Bank noted that textile dying produces 20% of global wastewater. The fact that the wastewater is released directly into rivers and streams implies that the textile industry increases the risk of exposure to heavy metals for both people and animals who use water contaminated with the wastewater from the industry.
Thus, the fact that Lululemon uses synthetic fibers that are cheap and common among fast fashion brands and have a devastating impact on the environment implies that the company can, to some extent, be said to be fast fashion.
Bottom Line – Is Lululemon Fast Fashion?
In the previous sections, the different reasons why Lululemon qualifies to be considered as fast fashion and the reasons why the company should not be referred to as fast fashion have been discussed.
Whether Lululemon should be referred to as a fast-fashion or not has been a popular question over the years. A Reddit user posed the question, ‘Is Lululemon fast fashion’ to discover what other Reddit users thought about the subject. The caption below shows that 913 Reddit users responded to the question.
As shown in the screenshot above, 406 respondents, which is 44.5% of those that responded, indicated that Lululemon was a fast fashion due to every week drop that involves the company introducing new products once a week.
On the other hand, 507 of the respondents, which is 55.5% of the respondents, noted that Lululemon is not a fast fashion because the company products last a long time.
Taking into consideration all the points, it is evident that even though the company has some aspects of fast fashion, it does not yet qualify to be classified as fast fashion since the quality of its products, as well as the pricing strategy used by the company, does not advocate for customers to buy products and use them for a few times before disposing of them.
Indeed, most Lululemon customers buy Lulu products assured that they will use the products for a long time, contrary to the notion of fast fashion. Therefore, lululemon cannot be classified as fast fashion.
Even if Lululemon’s operations negatively impact the environment and the company introduces many new products on regular basis, the company does not yet qualify to be labeled as fast fashion.
Lululemon products are pricey, and anyone buying them expects to use them more than 14 times which is the average time fast fashion products are used before they are disposed of.
Moreover, Lululemon has a practical lifetime warranty for its products. The warrant indicates that Lululemon products are supposed to be used for an extended period, which is never the case with fast fashion.
Thus, Lululemon should not be considered a fast fashion. Let me know your thoughts about the issue. Thanks for reading the post. Feel free to share the post with your friends.
Ethical Consumer. What is fast fashion, and why is it a problem?
Fletcher, K. (2008). Sustainable Fashion and Textiles. Routledge: London.
Cox, S., Stephenson, K. (n.d.). Commodity Chain Project ~ Lululemon Athletica.
Master Class Staff (2021). Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers: What’s the Difference?
Idacavage, S. (2018). Fashion history lesson: The origins of fast fashion.
Hayes, S. (2021). Fast Fashion.