How Women Were ‘At the Heart’ of Lululemon’s Footwear Line, Which Won the FNAA Launch of the Year Award

Lululemon focused on female consumers when it entered the footwear category this year. But women were behind the entire launch process as well.

Accepting the award for Launch of the Year at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards, Lululemon’s chief product officer Sun Choe and chief brand officer Nikki Neuburger explained how the four-year journey to launch shoes was driven by women from start to finish.

“We not only design shoes for her,” Choe said. “We design shoes with her.”

The collection — which consists of four different silhouettes that dropped throughout 2022 — underwent a rigorous process of creation that included multiple rounds of wear-testing and analyzing footwear scans from more than a million feet. Each shoe was created from a last specifically designed from a woman’s foot. To get the right fit, Lululemon partnered with Volumental, a technology firm that provides 3D foot scanners in stores, to analyze their data, which included the means of foot measurements across North America and Asia for all genders. The goal was to get an accurate representation of different female feet to curate a shoe meant for women.

Lululemon also listened to feedback from its consumers and ambassadors like fitness coach and Lululemon trainer Deja Riley, who presented Lululemon with the award on Wednesday evening and described Choe and Neuburger as two women “at the heart of this launch.”

“As a Lululemon ambassador and a Lululemon studio trainer, I can vouch for the fact that women have been at the center of this brand’s footwear journey from the very beginning,” Riley said. “Lululemon footwear means a great deal to me, not only because it’s made for women’s first, but because my feedback along with many other women helped shape the feel and function of the shoes.”

As a company that had already made a name for itself in the activewear space, footwear was the natural next step for the growing brand. When the lined launch, demand for the new products in Q1 were in excess of supply and “far exceeded” the company’s expectations., CEO Calvin McDonald said.

“We definitely had a lot more demand than we anticipated,” McDonald said on an earnings call in June. Initially, he explained, the shoes sold out more quickly than would have been desired in “an ideal scenario,” though he described the success at that early stage as encouraging.

Lululemon has said it eventually plans to launch men’s footwear as well, but no date has been announced. However, the brand has suggested that when it comes to footwear, it is only getting started.

“Thank you to Footwear News for welcoming us officially to the footwear family,” Neuburger said. “You will see more of us for sure.”

For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.

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