The women's sneaker, known as Blissfeel, launched this spring and was a major change of strategy trajectory for the Canadian athleisure company. Since coming onto the scene in 1998, the company had sold primarily athletic clothing and a few odd accessories.
At its most recent earnings call, the company's chief executive Calvin McDonald first-quarter demand for the shoe line "far exceeded our sales forecast" and pushed the company to explore other areas to branch into before the shoe line is fully rolled out.from 2021, and raised sales estimates for 2022 from $7.61 billion to $7.71 billion.
McDonald also said that, along with expanding its running line, Lululemon plans to roll out apparel specifically designed for hiking "in the coming weeks."
While little detail was given on what this would look like (images of grip shoes, fanny packs and Patagonia-style fleece jackets spring to mind), McDonald specified that the new styles would be "designed specifically for hiking" in the same way that its two recent lines were specifically designed for tennis and golf.
"This assortment will combine elements of our core assortment with new styles designed specifically for hiking," he told investors. "This is an unmet need we heard from our guests specifically as hiking has gained popularity during the pandemic."
Another commitment brought up by McDonald was a Throwbacks line that brings back some of the styles that Lululemon had in the past but later pulled out of circulation.and the Inspiro Crop capri-style leggings that were also very popular around the same time period.
"Our product team has been spending time in our archives to find the best of the best and rerelease limited editions of some of our guests' favorite styles, including revamped versions of our Astro Pant, shaped jacket and Inspire Crop," McDonald said.
Too Many Lines, Too Little Time? No, Says Lululemon
That is a lot of plans for a company that has only recently branched into another apparel category and analysts like Webdush Securities' Tom Nikic asked whether such plans would overload consumers with too many categories and different "lines" that, like the golf and tennis ones, only feature a few items.
While McDonald said that they were "not stepping outside of the relationship we already have with guests,” time will tell which lines will take off like footwear and which will ultimately fizzle out due to lack of interest.
"The immediate response to all this incremental key activities or categories or items, be it footwear, tennis and golf were incredibly strong, which to me just validates the need, the immediate response and reaction, and I'm excited, encouraged with hiking," McDonald said. "We know when we bring innovative product that delivers on an unmet need, that's focused on these core activities that are the strength of the relationship that he and she has with the brand, it resonates."