Ocean is a fashionable, professional 32-year-old woman who’s unmarried but engaged; she makes $100,000 a year, owns her own condo, and has an hour and a half to work out every day, as noted by the New York Times. Ocean has her act together, and she’s willing to shell out $100 for stylish pants she can wear to both yoga and brunch to help her keep it that way.
After years spent with a singular obsession on Ocean — a kind of aspirational Barbie for educated, affluent women — Lululemon has ramped up its focus on her Ken. He’s a man named Duke.
Duke is a few years older than Ocean, a “mindful athlete” who’s competitive, well-rounded, and likes a variety of physical activities, executives say. Felix del Toro, who heads up Lululemon’s men’s efforts, has described Duke as “discerning” and “someone you’d want to be friends with and someone you’d want your sister to marry.” Like Ocean, he’s willing to pay a premium for clothes he can wear to the gym and hang out in, while looking good at the same time.
When Lululemon starting doubling down on the men’s market in early 2013, it was met with a healthy amount of skepticism: Did men like Duke really exist? And if they did, could a brand so centered around women tempt them away from the likes of Nike and Under Armour?
As it turns out, yes they do, and yes they can. Today more than one in every seven dollars spent at Lululemon is for men’s items, and sales of men’s gear grew by 15% in the most recent quarter, almost twice as fast as overall sales at the company.
That’s a bigger deal than it may seem, because getting men to buy clothes once exclusively worn by women is a very tough sell. While pretty much any macho sports or surf brand can slap a logo on a women’s T-shirt and stand a good chance of gaining traction, there are few precedents for a women’s brand being proudly worn by guys — think college guys in Lilly Pulitzer shorts, or ballplayers wearing Victoria’s Secret boxers. Continue reading >>