Lululemon Athletica Inc. has confirmed the upcoming debut of its inaugural shoe line.
In yesterday’s quarterly conference call with analysts, CEO Calvin McDonald revealed plans to introduce Lululemon’s entry in footwear in the back half of the next year and begin selling in early 2022.
“We’re excited to share our unique point of view and innovation in that category,” he said but did not offer specifics about the product line.
The announcement comes 20 months after Lululemon first said it would dip its toes into the footwear market. Last April, at the company’s annual analyst day, McDonald said the team had been developing an in-house shoe range following the success of its collaboration with sneaker label APL, which launched in August 2017.
“We tested, and we learned a lot on footwear, and what we learned is: The guest resonates with us selling footwear,” he said at the time. “We believe we’ve identified an opportunity that will be unique to us and unique within the marketplace.”
With the shoe line, the Vancouver, Canada-based brand would face heavy competition: Sportswear giants Nike and Adidas have long commanded a large share of the market, while startups like Allbirds have invested millions of dollars in marketing efforts to reach new consumers.
Still, Lululemon has plenty of resources to invest in the category: For the third quarter, the company logged a 22% gain in revenues to $1.1 billion. Plus, the brand — with its strengths lying at the intersection of fashion, fitness and lifestyle — has appeared to reap the benefits of coronavirus-induced stay-at-home orders, which have led swaths of consumers to opt for comfort-driven and athletic options.
“Since the early days of the pandemic, our guests have been demanding technical product that offers comfort and versatility as they spend more time working and sweating from home,” McDonald said in the call.
Within its women’s business, Lululemon noted a return to pre-COVID-19 growth rates, with a 22% improvement in sales. The men’s category rose 14%. Overall, comps increased 19%, driven by a 94% spike in direct-to-consumer revenues.
“As we continue to invest in our activity base — be it run, train or yoga — across the categories, there’s a number of innovations that we’ll introduce throughout the year that will continue to fuel growth in the business,” added McDonald.