Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) is trying to break out of its women-only customer base by providing gear for participants in this weekend's Wall Street Decathlon, Bloomberg reported on Thursday (July 25).
The 173 mostly-male bankers, traders and analysts running in the event on Sunday (July 28) will be wearing the chain's shirts and shorts as part of Lululemon's promotion of its merchandise for men and its plans to open standalone men's stores starting in 2016. The Vancouver-based retailer has been relatively successful in selling to men in Canada, but hasn't managed to break out of its yoga-duds-for-women niche in the U.S.
Aside from simple expansion, Lululemon is still recovering from a sourcing snafu that left it selling semi-transparent yoga pants. Ironically, that problem may have brought the brand more visibility among U.S. men than all its previous efforts. Lululemon has sold men's clothing in its U.S. stores since 2003.
The chain is also trying to promote yoga as an activity for men, but that's likely to be an uphill slog. As part of the decathlon promotion, the retailer offered free yoga classes to participants. Only two men showed up for the class out of about 150 male decathlon runners.
There's a touch of irony in Lululemon's sponsorship of the Wall Street Decathlon this year: It displaced Under Armour (NYSE:UA) as the provider of clothing for the event. While Lululemon is trying to promote its men's athletic clothing and expand its customers' assumptions beyond yoga, Under Armour is working to appeal to women, and is the official supplier to a Baltimore yoga studio chain.
- See this Bloomberg story
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