Athleta vs. Lululemon – which brand is better? Full review to read before buying. Are you trying to decide between Athleta and Lululemon for your activewear needs? If so, you’re not alone. Both brands have become popular in recent years, and many people are torn between the two. In this article, we’ll look at both brands and compare them side-by-side to help you make the best decision for your activewear needs. We’ll look at their product offerings, quality, price points, customer service, and more to help you make an informed decision. So let’s dive right in and compare Athleta vs. Lululemon!
Today nobody knows for sure when sporty clothing became as appropriate for everyday wardrobe as it is for the gym. Still, Athleisure style is rocking social media and fashion blogs today. And Athleta and Lululemon are among the headliners of the trend.
Some agree that the rise of sporty style started back in the mid-1990-s when Spice Girls, particularly Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm), gained the fame that modern K-pop idols can only dream of. Others date the Athleisure trend back to the 1920-s when stays and corsets finally stepped back, and trendsetters like Coco Chanel and Jean Patou adopted designs that were previously appropriate for men`s sportswear only and made them mainstream.
However, for most of us, Athleisure fashion entered the everyday wardrobe in recent years and became “part of the ship, part of the crew” till today.
In other words, you don`t really have to be an active gym-goer or a yogi to appreciate a good pair of leggings or a genuinely supportive sports bra. So, brands like Lululemon and Athleta figured out the trend pretty fast and started building their marketing around it.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links which means we might receive a commission if you decide to buy something at no extra cost to you.
Athleta vs. Lululemon – which brand is better? Full review to read before buying
Today, both Athleta and Lululemon are considered the embodiment of the Athleisure wear style for most of us. And while a casual observer may think that Lululemon and Athleta offer the same things, there are actually many differences between the two popular brands.
So, let`s dive deeper into the world of athleisure wear and compare its leading players – Lululemon and Athleta, to see how they are different and which one would be best for you.
Athleta – A brief history of how this sports brand started and its journey to success
Although Athleta was founded the same year as Lululemon, the brand did not stand out on the market for a long time until it was eventually acquired by Gap Inc. in 2008.
The new management was looking for a “sales pitch” for a while, and the scandal around Lululemon came in extremely handy to build Athleta`s image as an inclusive and aware brand.
Just at the moment when social media was buzzing about Chip Wilson`s insensitive claims and how intimidating can be the shopping experience at Lululemon stores with their athletic mannequins and photos of perfectly-fit models all over, Athleta changed the concept of its stores entirely, introducing mannequins with different body types and letting customers understand that it is perfectly ok if you buy another pair of leggings just to “chill and Netflix” or run daily errands.
As for the style, Athleta`s models are pretty similar to what Lululemon has to offer every new season (some may see even suspiciously similar), but the brand stakes on more neutral color palettes and timeless classics, winning their fair share of customers.
Many don`t even see any difference between the most popular brands and shop at Athleta and Lululemon, mainly because their prices are generally the same. There is a common opinion that the two brands are related and only act like competitors to cover a wider audience. However, as mentioned, Athleta was once acquired by Gap Inc., while Lululemon is still an independent Canadian brand. As for now, the two are not associated in any manner.
Some say that even if you don`t really care how the mannequins look and what the brand`s chairman once said, the shopping experience in Athleta`s stores is more pleasant. It is mainly because the brand tries to create a relaxed and low-pressure atmosphere. The staff will not follow you all over the store, making you feel like you are being watched, but they will gladly respond to your every request and help to make an informed decision.
Athleta also successfully surfed the wave of online shopping with responsive customer service, an easy-to-navigate website, and a thorough online presence.
So, at this point, you may say that Lululemon and Athleta are pretty much the same. But if you pay between $90 and $150 for a pair of leggings, you probably want to make an informed decision. So, is there any difference in quality, fabrics, and craftsmanship that can make you choose one brand over another?
Some of the best-selling items at Athleta
Psst… Athleta offers 20% OFF for new customers. Keep that in mind when planning to shop here.
Lululemon – the history or rise and fall… and another rise
Lululemon is a Canadian brand that was founded in 1998 by a Vancouver resident and yoga enthusiast, Chip Wilson. By the way, even though Mr. Wilson was eventually forced to resign as a chairman of Lululemon due to a series of scandals we shall discuss later, he is still the company`s major shareholder.
In his early interviews, Chip Wilson claimed he wanted to create more than just a sports apparel brand. Lululemon was intended as a community of like-minded people passionate about healthy and mindful lifestyles.
Lululemon has stormed into the market with its fresh and inspiring concept, an impressive selection of easily combinable colors and prints, and matching sports bra and legging sets, which made it so easy to look cute and classy in the middle of the most intense, sweaty workout.
Soon enough, the brand expanded its lineup with pieces for cycling, training, running, etc., and started opening shops all over Canada and abroad. And although initially, lululemon was designed as a brand focused on female customers, they soon started working on a menswear line and even opened several shops just for men.
However, despite its international success, Lululemon is considered one of the most controversial brands in its segment. And ironically, it is because of the person who launched the brand and came up with its original concept in the first place!
At the beginning of the 2010s, when the competition in the athleisure wear market became more intense, Lululemon started to get bombarded with ruthless reviews and negative comments on social media. Many customers began complaining that the famous Lululemon leggings are not “squad-proof” and that many alternatives cost less and won’t make your undies shine through in public.
Surprisingly, Chip Wilson, who was then the company’s chairman, came up with several pretty insensitive and even aggressive public comments. In an interview for Bloomberg, the founder of Lululemon said, “Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work in our yoga pants” and continued the thought, suggesting that many customers suffer from wishful thinking and buy sportswear that is too small and then complain about the fit for no reason.
Those claims started a hurricane of negative comments and cost Lululemon many devoted customers. And even though just a week later, Chip Wilson went public again and apologized for his previous claims, Lululemon is still considered one of the most controversial brands in the industry.
By the way, the very same scandal helped our second brand, Athleta, surf the wave and become Lululemon`s main competitor, but we shall talk about it a bit later.
Just when everybody thought that Lululemon was done and would follow other non-inclusive brands to the outskirts of the fashion industry, the Pandemic and e-commerce brought it back on top.
Somehow Lululemon`s team managed to create one of the most convenient and exciting online shopping experiences with excellent customer service and flexible shipment and return policies. And since we all got used to shopping online and continue doing so even after the malls returned to business, Lululemon is once again one of the most popular athleisurewear brands in the world.
Quality and Materials
Both Athleta and Lululemon offer pieces meant to last. If you are more into numbers and specific guarantees, Lululemon claims on their website that their leggings will last at least five years of intense wear.
Lululemon came up with its patented material known as Lu-on, a unique blend of lycra and nylon with this exceptional buttery-soft touch most people know and love Lululemon leggings for.
Athleta’s brand is all about sustainability and eco-friendly materials and manufactures. The brand claims at least 70% of each collection is made from recycled polyester and nylon. They also use sustainable and ethically-sourced natural materials such as organic cotton and TENCEL.
Both brands offer fabrics with advanced characteristics meant to make you feel comfortable during the most intense and sweaty workouts. For example, Lululemon has its famous fast-dry, cool-to-the-touch Everlux blend, developed by scientists and meant to absorb extreme amounts of moisture.
Athleta came up with a whole line of products made from the so-called Super-Sonix Fabric, which not only absorbs moisture and dry super-fast but also has a pleasantly cool touch and provides compression at all the right places.
As we have already mentioned, Athleta initially positions on the market as an inclusive activewear brand. Here you will find items in a size range from XXS to 3XL. The brand also offers unique collections for those looking for more coverage, modest looks, and unique designs meant for changing adolescent bodies to make athletes of all ages, genders, and cultures feel most comfortable in their sportswear.
Lululemon seems to have learned the lesson that almost took the brand down several years ago and offers a pretty wide size range from 0 (XXS) to 20 (XXL). However, not all their models have such a broad sizing potential.
The good news, Lululemon does have incredible customer service. Whether you shop online or in a store, you can always address their consultants, who will help you make an informed decision. And if at some point you figure out that you want to size up or down, it is very easy to exchange or return a previously-bought piece.
We already discussed that both Athleta and Lululemon stand at a higher price range, which is very unlikely to change in the observable future. However, let`s take a closer look at both brands` pricing policies, as they are a bit different after all.
As we have already mentioned, since 2008, Athleta has belonged to Gap Inc. Therefore, its pricing, standards, and other policies are everything you would expect from GAP and other related brands. They launch every new collection at the top of the pricing bar and may drop the numbers dramatically during another seasonal sale.
So, if you want to get some excellent-quality items from Athleta for more than a reasonable price, watch out for their semi-annual sales, especially the one that usually starts in the middle of July.
As for Lululemon, their items usually stand at an even higher price range. Let’s be fair; $ 100 is more than most of us are comfortable paying for a pair of workout pants. However, those who at least once spoiled themselves with one of Lululemon`s bestsellers will tell you that these clothes are an incredible investment whether you want to look fabulous and feel comfortable in the gym or wear those leggings every day (which you probably will anyway).
As for sales, Lululemon regulars know about the “secret” We Made Too Much section on their website. Here you can find some great deals, which seem pretty random as they may cover less popular models and Lululemon`s bestsellers, such as the Align leggings. In other words, nobody knows how and when some items end up in this “sale” section, making your shopping experience with Lululemon even more exciting. It is probably another marketing trick, but let`s admit it, it works!
So, which brand is better – Lululemon or Athleta?
It is pretty hard to say which of the two popular athleisurewear brands is better. In many ways, it is more about what you expect from the brand and what it stands for rather than the quality of items or customer service.
Today both brands offer a wide range of models for all sorts of activities, from intense workouts to recreational and relaxing yoga sessions. In both stores, you will find various fabrics with outstanding characteristics and models that provide compression and embrace you in all the right places. Both Lululemon and Athleta are pretty inclusive when it comes to sizing.
Lululemon emphasizes that their items are made to last and are a great investment. Athleta is all about sustainability and ethical policies, which is definitely a game-changer for many customers today.
The main limitation we may think of is that, unlike Athleta, Lululemon has a menswear line, which is a pretty obvious argument if we are looking t the two brands from this point since none of the brands offer particular unisex items.
So, the bottom line is that Lululemon and Athleta are really not that different. In many ways, it proves that you should wear what you love and what fits you best and make your decisions based on your own preferences rather than what is written on the label.
Did you find this Athleta vs. Lululemon review helpful? Has it helped you decide where to buy your next workout clothing and accessories? If so, please share this article on social media to help others understand the difference between Athleta and Lululemon.