The family behind Lululemon is launching a new company, called Kit & Ace. Shannon Wilson and son JJ are spearheading the venture as creative director and brand director, but the family’s notorious patriarch Chip is certainly a presence.
The Wilsons claim the new brand is different from Lululemon, in that it’s not in the athleisure category. The family is calling it “technical luxury.”
But, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes in a recent profile of the family, that market, while not yet booming, is well on its way to becoming flooded. Bloomberg’s Susan Berfield cites competitors, along the lines of Michael Kors and Tory Burch, who are all starting to develop apparel that falls in line with the “technical luxury” ethos.
But other than that, it’s nothing special, experts say.
“It’s nice that Kit & Ace developed the Technical Cashmere, but it will be copied,” Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner in the retail practice at A.T. Kearney, told Bloomberg. “If they’re smart enough to build a community, that’s harder to copy.”
Lululemon is known for the loyal following that sets it apart. The retailer keeps customers coming back through offering events like free yoga classes and running clubs.
“[They] had a particular business model…the community, involvement, the way they motivate people in the store.” Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of Vivaldi Partners, told Business Insider. Joachimsthaler highlighted the importance of “differentiating” one’s brand – a category in which Lululemon has proven successful.
And who can forget Lululemon’s obsession with Ayn Rand (thanks to Chip Wilson) and the iconic quotes emblazoned across its shopping bags?
Kit & Ace is trying to replicate that community.
There’s a table in every store that looks like the one in the Wilson’s household, and the company reportedly has “supper clubs” for particular customers, wherein the lucky diners get to answer some of the Wilson’s favorite questions.
Kit & Ace already is emulating Lululemon. Its name comes from its “muses” – Kit and Ace – which is reminiscent of Lululemon’s notorious “ideal” customers, Ocean and Duke.