Saturday, July 21, 2007

Honey, we shrunk the logo

I found myself in Kingston's lululemon athletica this afternoon while shopping on Princess Street.

As the shop’s ebullient staff (excuse me, ambassadors) waxed poetic about the seaweed-woven t-shirts (I kid you not) and odour-free workout gear I was trying on, I found myself struck by something quite odd. The lululemon logo, it turned out, was barely visible on any of the items inside my fitting room.

For someone who grew up in an era of Ralph Lauren polo ponies and Benetton rugby shirts, I was somewhat taken aback. After all, here was a brand built almost entirely on lifestyle and the customer experience rather than logo and media hype. Mystifying.

In our logo-crazed culture (for a detailed history of the phenomenon, check out a great read by Naomi Klein, No Logo), lululemon offers a refreshing alternative to mob aesthetics.

And while I walked out of the store without making a purchase (seriously, $59 for a t-shirt?), I found myself faintly impressed that a company would take such a calculated marketing risk.

In historical terms, I believe such companies are known as “trailblazers”.

P.S. For more on lululemon athletica, stay tuned for the fall launch of our Podcast Café, a collection of Canadian case studies that’ll give you something to talk about…


Hollie .S. said...

I totally agree with you on their tiny logo! I wasn't as strong as you though. I sadly gave in and spent about $100 on capri's, and three headbands. Two of them were for my sisters though :) But .. when I tried on those $70 capri's, I first thought wow these are comfy, then, where is the logo? Yeah they were so amazing it felt like I was naked.. but let's be honest .. if I didn't want a pair of Lulu pants so bad .. I would have just went to good Ol' Wal-Mart and bought some there ! For the price I was paying it would have been nice to have in huge bold letters right down the leg Lululemons! But .. I guess they're going for quality .. and I have to tell ya .. I pretty much live in them!!

Anonymous said...

Hmm this is interesting that a company that charges some pretty crazy prices wouldn't want to have their logo splashed all over the place. I have very few pieces of clothing that don't have some sort of branding all over it, whether I was trying to avoid that or not. Everything seems to be all about brand names, logos, and taglines, and has been for some time now.
- Sarah T

Alex Sancton said...

I think there are similar examples here to be drawn between the lululemon brand and, lets say starbucks. Starbucks has built an image of "premium" coffees which now represent a higher social standing, and a cult like culture of people who need to pay sometimes up to 6 or 7 dollars for a coffee with all the fixings. I would argue that most people are paying for the starbucks experience, whether it be the logo or ability to hang out in a coffee shop for hours on end pretending to do your work. I'll stick with my $1.30 large double double, thanks.

katie.d said...

God bless the person that invented Lululemon! Being a person that lives pretty much lives in anything you could wear to the gym or to bed, this store is a blessing! Some girls at my work came in supporting the what seemed like GT Boutique fashions only to brag about how great their new attire was..UNTILL..the $120 for a sweater bomb got dropped and my jaw it the floor faster then you could say "Holy Crap thats an expensive ass sweater!".. So, on my recent trip to Toronto i made it a mission to go into this apprent heaven on eart store and check out what the hype was over, and to be honest with you i wasnt really that impressed. Yes the store is spacious, yes their stuff is good quality and what not, but the crazy of Lululemon is going to fade out just as quick and say Underarmor. It wasnt so long ago that it was the must have item of the century and now its just be replaced with the yoga lovers preference of spandex! I own a couple of items of clothing from each brand only because i gave into the hype and had to test them for myself, but no matter how good of quality a brand is or how big the logo is, peoplelike what they like and thats whats going to rake in the big bucks!

Brandy Monro said...

The irony of the Lululemon is that everyone (Lulu wearers of course!) can remember when they bought their first article of clothing and how they felt when they put them on. I remember the start of the lululemon craze was while I was living in Vancouver, where I believe is the birthplace of the phenomena of Lulu. Yoga was emerging as the greatest exercising fad, and in trendy Vancouver, everyone needed their $100 Lulu’s to do their downward dog in. I remember seeing women (At the time I think there was only a woman’s line of clothing) in these great stretchy pants or capris and wondering what they were. My first thought was how great it was to see a fashion trend that was comfortable to wear and made everyone look so great. If you have never noticed, Lululemon is a clothing line that, for the most part, everyone looks good wearing. What more could you want then an accepted comfortable clothing line that makes you look great while feeling good!?

I think that their branding is brilliant because their company is built around the tranquility and peacefulness of yoga, which equates to Sans-huge logos. They have limited their style and selection, which has created somewhat of a homogeneous culture. This is, however, ingenious because everyone knows when you are wearing Lulu’s whether or not they can find it’s logo. They have built their empire around an exercise that is good for the mind, body, and soul and created a culture that promotes this. The staff at Lululemon also have to take part in yoga classes every week. This is the beauty of the culture that Lululemon has created for itself. Their branding techniques are calculated and I think, masterminded their way into a revolution of yoga clothing and so much more. How long it will last??? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. I for one know,that I love the few pieces of Lulu and I will probably buy more.