Every once in a while a remarkable brand appears on the scene, one that stands out in the cluttered world we live in. Lululemon is one of those brands.
Chip Wilson founded Lululemon in Vancouver, Canada in 1998. Apparently Chip tried yoga and loved the experience but he couldn’t find good yoga apparel. So he created the company.
The latest financial results are simply astonishing. In its 2012 fiscal year (ending 1/31/12) Lululemon had revenues of over $1 billion, up more than 40% from prior year. Net income was $184 million, a remarkable 18.4% of revenue. Lululemon now has a market capitalization of more than $10.7 billion.
Last week I stopped by the Lululemon store on Halsted Street in Chicago to see what all the fuss was about. Almost an hour later I emerged from the store, quite taken with the brand. Joe, the nice fellow who helped me, simply gushed about Lululemon. He simply loved working there and loved the products. He explained all the various technical features.
The store environment was captivating; the employees were all young and fit and happy. Each one had their personal goals posted in the store. One fellow wanted to be a store manager in the next year, another wanted to be married with kids in five years. The clothes were displayed in an elegant fashion.
I ended up buying a pair of underwear for a remarkable $24 (the most expensive underwear I’ve ever bought, by far) but I felt great about the purchase because Joe recommended it (“This is simply the best underwear I’ve ever worn”) and it was fun to be part of the scene, albeit in a modest way. The bag alone, featuring the Lululemon manifesto, was worth the price.
If you get people to be thrilled about buying fairly ordinary looking underwear for $24 each you’ve really done something remarkable.
I might even stop by for the Sunday morning yoga clinic sometime, too. I’m not a huge yoga fan so that would be even more remarkable.