Reinventing retail, Lululemon announce second ‘lab’ opening

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Lululemon addicts (yes, it’s a real club), prepare your ventilators because the rumours are true, Lululemon is opening its very first lab in the United States.

Set to open its doors late March at 50 Bond Street in New York’s Noho neighbourhood, the venture marks the second lab for the active wear giant, with the first located in Lululemon’s hometown, Vancouver.

If you live in the area and are lunge jumping with excitement at picking up your latest faves, think again. Although a retail space, the lab will be a concept store that doubles as a design studio, housing limited edition capsule collections along with the designers that envisaged them – in other words, you’ll be sharing the changing rooms with fit models testing prototypes of future pieces (not to put you off)!

Unlike Lululemon’s main lines of uber-functional sport attire, ranges created at the Lululemon Lab will be a little different.

“What we’re up to is a bit of a hybrid between function, sweat, performance, and ready-to-wear [clothing] that can take you through your whole day,” head designer, Matt Le Blanc told Well+Good.

And when he says “you”, he’s talking directly to New Yorkers. Getting inspiration and feedback from customers browsing the store, the lab’s experiential merchandise will be extremely hyperlocal. In addition to one-off collaborations with local brands and artists, Le Blanc and his team have considered everything – from running for the subway to walking 10 blocks for the best coffee – that is specific to New Yorkers and differs to, say, the nature-hiking population of Vancouver.

“[New Yorkers] need clothing that can move, clothing that has a storage option, that you want to be able to carry your whole day,” he explains. “There’s an edge, attitude, and sophistication that’s uniquely New York – that’s what I’m trying to put into this Lab.”

With a background in more traditional, well-tailored designs, Le Blanc is fusing his craftsmanship into the new wave athleisure movement to create a hybrid of everyday attire that’s also stretchy, moisture-wicking and extremely functional.

“We have trousers and blazers that fit impeccably; they’re sharp, and you can feel absolutely dressed up in them, and yet they function like something you can sweat in,” he explains to Well+Good.

The Lululemon Lab is transforming the offline retail experience, creating one space for customers and designers to interact.

“That’s one of the most exciting aspects of the Lab,” Le Blanc says. “Being a designer for nine years in New York City, you put something out there and hope that people like it. Being able to be in conversation, be on the sales floor, help people with fitting their garments and choosing the style is really going to create a relationship that’s going to cycle back into the product each season.”

If you live in NYC and can’t hold out until March, stop by the brand’s flagship store in the Flatiron District at 114 5th Avenue to preview the collection, which ranges in price between $60 and $450. For everyone else, get a sneak peak here. 

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