I learned a new word today – “athleisure”. This is the sector of the retail clothing market that designs and sells athletic clothing for non-athletic consumers. It is a sector that Lululemon was in the vanguard of in the USA, so their share price had been booming. That was until 18% was wiped off it in trading this week, according to this Fortune magazine article. The explanation the company gave for its poor financial performance, leading to to offloading of shares, was an interesting one – “lack of bold colours”.
This is yet another example of how important ‘product design’ is in the clothing and fashion industry and how short the product life cycle is. Each year such operators have to design a range of new clothes for each season. If they get it wrong, or if their competitors get it more right than they do, it can have a serious impact on company performance. Aesthetic quality is therefore a key order winner in this sector (see page 37 in the book).