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Lululemon Making Big Bets On Tennis And Golf

The athleisure chain's latest collections are tailored for those who play these two sports.

With summer almost here, at least one clothing retailer is counting on customers  getting out to hit some tee shots or play some tennis. 

Lululemon  (LULU) - Get lululemon athletica inc. Report is betting on large numbers of people playing them, or at least wearing the clothes. The athleisure chain's latest collections are made specifically for use on the courts and links.

On The Court

Launched earlier, Lululemon's Spring 2022 Tennis Collection features bright tennis dresses, high-waisted skirts, polo shirts and tank tops.

While designed as actual athletic gear for use on the court rather than athleisure, many of the pieces can also work as a casual sporty look to wear every day. The clean lines and bright colors of the pieces are inspired by the annual Indian Wells Tournament in Palm Springs.

"The new spring ‘22 lineup brings Lululemon's signature designs and technical performance to the tennis court, to make even the toughest shots feel effortless," the company said in a release.

The Golf collection was launched more recently and features athletic-style skirts and polos for women as well as polos, fitted shirts and fitted golf pants for men.

In line with the rest of Lululemon's prices, pieces from both collections range from $58 for tank tops to $98 for polos and $138 for tennis dresses.

There are also some visors and thick, athletic-style socks that can be worn by all.

Athleisure Is Never Going Away

The biggest difference between athletic apparel and athleisure lies in the fit and material. Athletic clothing is made of sturdier material and meant for literal use on the court. Athleisure is more tailored and meant to be worn as regular clothes with a "sporty" look.

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While fashion has always drawn inspiration from sports and athletes, athleisure as a concept first came on the scene in the early 2000s alongside Lululemon's skyrocketing popularity.

Between 2012 and 2019, the global athleisure sector rose by 42% to $270 billion.

While retail experts kept waiting for the trend to break, athletic-style clothes saw an even bigger boost in demand during the pandemic. 

At a time when most clothing companies saw flagging sales and some teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, Nike NKE saw revenues rise by an annual 9% in the last quarter of 2020. Lululemon LULU saw revenues rise 24% in the same quarter.

Retail experts hypothesized that, with lockdown orders forcing people inside, the only clothes that made sense were stretchy and comfortable.

"There was a huge uptick in running sneakers, running apparel, footwear, at-home workout and yoga clothes, hiking clothes," Krista Corrigan, an analyst at retail market intelligence firm Edited, told TheStreet in 2021.

Even though industry watchers predicted that most customers would eventually ditch the stretchy pants and put on something more tailored, demand for athletic-style clothing did not go down even after offices reopened.

recent report from Placer.ai showed that, between 2019 and 2022, visits to Lululemon rose 17.2% in January, 27% in February and 5.8% in March.

In a recent earnings call, Lululemon reported that revenue rose 30% year-over-year to $1.5 billion. The company also recently committed to growing sales to $12.5 billion by 2026.

Athleta, the athletic clothing subsidiary of the Gap GAP, saw respective increases of 35.5%, 39.2% and 33.2% in the same months.