With so many options in the fitness apparel industry these day, is the high price tag of those running crops with the stylized “A” logo on the side really worth it?
I don’t know about you, but if (or when) I decide to purchase a high priced item of athletic gear I expect it to be well constructed. It should offer comfort, breathability, style, strength and longevity. At the very least, it should hold up to repeated wear during vigorous exercise.
As a distance runner, I own dozens of shorts, crops, pants and running skirts. Four to five days a week I put these items through the ringer. Miles upon miles, up and down the streets and trails, then back home and laid across my bath tub until laundry day. Just to pick it all back up the following week and endure the same rigorous treatment. But one thing is for certain. The care and delicacy with which I treat these items is such that no other clothing item in my wardrobe receives. My running clothes get the luxury treatment. And I don’t mind treating them this way, because, to me, they are worth the price.
Which leads me to the question of the hour.
Are those $98 Lululemon pants really worth the price?
Let’s evaluate the product first and consider what you’re getting with that price tag.
- Performance and Comfort – probably the most important factors in athletic gear. If you are a serious runner, logging a minimum of 30 miles a week, you are going to need a well constructed pair of crops or shorts that fit right and perform without chaffing or movement. One of the biggest selling points for lululemon’s running crops is their smooth, chafe-resistant Nakedseam™ technology. They use bonded seams instead of stitching so you don’t get rubbed raw. My Pace Rival crops have flat and bonded seams. I can log 15 miles in the pouring rain and not worry about how my shower is going to feel when I’m done. The wider bands on the Run Inspire Crops holds firmly against my not-so-tight tummy and supports me in all the right places. I recently had a friend in my running group mention how Lululemon crops made her feel like she was wearing Spanx. And I will agree that I prefer the supportive structure of Lulu’s pants and shorts to those of others for that exact reason. They are definitely more forgiving.
- Functionality – With pockets for storing everything from keys, cash and/or nutrition on the go, Lululemon definitely hits the mark with functionality. They have water-resistant zipper pockets on the back of their pants called Block-It Pockets that help keep your essentials secure and dry when you’re working up a sweat. And with mesh fabric panels for extra ventilation, along with moisture-wicking fabrics, these pants are sure to keep you dry even during those hot summer training months.
- Fit – There’s a little bit of a debate on this one. Some people say that Lululemon’s sizes run small. Some say their sizes are inconsistent. Some say the sizes only cater to a certain body shape and size. And while I can’t confirm or deny any of those, here’s what I do know. Lululemon’s sizes range from 2-12. For an official size chart, you can visit their website. It’s labeled under every item. And even though the size chart is not an exact science, it is a good starting point. Just keep in mind that fabric stretch can account for a little variance in size and feel. As a woman on the larger size, I’m 5’9″ and155 lbs,, I can confirm that lululemon gear does allow some forgiveness as I mentioned above. As an example, I was able to wear my Run Inspire crops until my 6th month of pregnancy, along with several of their Cool Racerbacks. They offered the most amazing fit for an expanding belly and allowed plenty of ventilation for hot day trips to the theme parks with my daughter.
- Fashion – Let’s face it. Lululemon made their big mark on the athletic apparel industry with the introduction of their fashionable yoga wear. People may have been wearing athletic attire out to lunch and to play dates before lululemon, but they were not strutting their stuff like the women wearing lulu do. Lululemon grabbed the attention of many women with it’s stylish attire and they continue to provide plenty of attention grabbing styles that so many of us appreciate.
- Customer Service and Product Warranty – I’m mentioning this purposely because I have personally experienced exceptional encounters with both, yet have seen and heard the opposite of what I encountered. First and foremost, I absolutely love and rave about Lululemon’s quality product warranty. Being that I use these garments in such a way that requires constant use and washing, I require these articles be durable to make their cost worthwhile. On two separate occasions, I encountered a rip in the threads of two of my bottoms: one in my favorite black Run Inspire crops, and the other in a running skirt. The first time I merely tweeted how devastated I was to have “ripped my favorite @lululemon running crops.’ Within hours, I was contacted by lululemon customer service and asked about the article. In the end, the prompt response, coupled with their product satisfaction guarantee equaling a brand new pair of running crops for yours truly won me over one hundred percent. On the second occasion, I reached out to the customer service number on their website to inquire whether my skirt was covered under that same warranty. To my utmost joy, it was, so I again was allowed to return the item for a gift card in the amount of the item’s original price. I might add. Both of those items were worn excessively for two full marathons, several half marathons and countless training runs. The mileage alone on those bottoms were in quadruple digits. But they stood by their warranty and that speaks volumes to the quality and pricing of the garments.
I know many people may want to ask what my budget is for fitness apparel when I tell them I only run in Lululemon gear. But the truth is that I can’t afford NOT to run in their clothes. Sure, ninety-eight bucks is a lot of money for a pair of pants that you sweat in, but break it down like this. If you wore those crops every week for two years, those crops would equate to a dollar and six cents ($1.06) for every usage. And with that price, you would get confidence in your fit, convenient pockets for stashing those personal items, performance and durability guarantees, and comfortable functionality.
I say all of this, not because I think you should necessarily buy Lululemon running crops, because there are other quality fitness apparel lines out there, but by me doing so, I ended up saving a lot of hassle and money in the long run. And I just so happen to really like their running line. Six years ago, spending almost a hundred dollars on workout pants wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. But, once I became an endurance athlete, it didn’t take me long to appreciate the value in paying for quality gear that is used so frequently and more likely to outlast the bargain buys.
When it comes to down to it, the athlete must decide for themselves what is most valued in their spending. What are your specific expectations for running gear? Do you need all the pockets and extra features? Is having fashion forward fitness apparel important to you? Are you able to splurge on something like this or is this considered frivolous? Would a couple “staple” items be sufficient to start with before adding to your collection?
In closing, I definitely think Lululemon running pants are worth it, if you have the budget to spend. And even if you don’t have the budget to go all out right away, try starting small, with one item, then gradually building up a nice collection of pieces over time. This method can reduce the initial shock to your bank account. And adding one or two pieces after a while or putting them on your wish list for birthdays and special occasions is never a bad idea. That makes for an extra special surprise too. And I gotta say, those cute little red gift cards make great gifts (hint, hint).
Tell me your thoughts on Lululemon and their price per garment in the comments below.
Are you a fan of their line?
Do you find their gear to be worth the price tag?