“We tested, and what we learned is: the [customer] resonates with us selling footwear,” Lululemon chief executive Calvin McDonald said during the company’s first analyst day since 2014, in which he outlined its five-year growth plan. “We believe we’ve identified an opportunity that will be unique to us, and unique within the marketplace.”
McDonald was unable to share specifics on the shoes – “We are looking to do it ourselves and we’ll share more at a later date” – but it is likely the styles will be functional rather than aimed at sneakerheads. Lululemon's tagline is “Yoga Clothes + Running Gear” and all the company’s messaging is weighted towards technical references for the “sweaty pursuits” it caters for, rather than fashion trends. It is not yet known whether the brand will stop stocking Athletic Propulsion Labs, the affiliate trainers it has stocked in its global stores since 2017.
The retailer's mission to double sales of its men’s and online businesses and quadruple international revenues by 2023 means the pressure is on for the label to “enter [into the footwear sphere] with something that is unique, defined, and focused,” McDonald outlined.