February 2, 2015

The Muses of Lululemon

From a profile of Chip Wilson in the New York Times.

Expect to be impressed and/or appalled:

08wilson1-master675Early on at Lululemon, Wilson came up with a “muse” who would inspire all merchandise — a 32-year-old professional single woman named Ocean who makes $100,000 a year. Wilson described Ocean to me like this: “engaged, has her own condo, is traveling, fashionable, has an hour and a half to work out a day.” Ocean was the target market, he explained, because she was the woman who all women want to be. “If you’re 20 years old or you’re graduating from university, you can’t wait to be that woman,” he said. “If you’re 42 years old with a couple children, you wish you had that time back.”

As Lululemon moved into men’s wear, the company added a male muse. Duke (who shared a name with Wilson’s third son) was 35 and made more money than Ocean. Duke was an “athletic opportunist,” surfing in the summer, snowboarding in the winter, and he was willing to pay for quality.

At Kit and Ace, the clothes are also designed for two muses: Kit, a 29-year-old single woman who, Shannon told me, “is looking to buy her first apartment, but is still renting. She works in the creative area, like in graphic design or fashion, and loves to bike on weekends”; and Ace, a 32-year-old similarly groovy guy, who drinks strong coffee, “likes to go to breweries and hangs out with his friends. He does CrossFit once a week and spins three times a week, loves brunch on the weekends.” It all sounds a bit like a profile on OkCupid — or like a younger Lululemon.

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  1. I’m a little perplexed at the negativity. Chips “muses” seem to have worked very well for him. He seems to have tapped into the desires of a lot of people.

    I can understand criticism of how the company operates, how he spends his money and what kind of community member he is, but those are different issues.

    1. I guess I just don’t see what the negative connotations are regarding the idea that businesses should create products that people want. We’re not talking about how they make their products, how they price them or what they do with the profits here – merely about the concept that they have male and female target customer profiles. Is that really a bad thing?

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