The athleisure brand's online "secondary market" has fans paying top dollar for yoga pants, sports bras, running shorts, and more
Would you pay $800 for a pair of running shorts? What about $250 for a sports bra? And what if those prices are for items you could pick up at your local shopping center, not one-of-a-kind, sporty couture? Turns out, some Lululemon fans are paying that much and more to resellers by way of Facebook groups, eBay, and consignment websites like Tradesy, where price markups can skyrocket as high as 1000 percent of retail value—which, if you haven’t perused a Lululemon recently, were already a little steep for the everywoman’s budget to begin with. (Some workout clothes and equipment really are worth the investment—it just depends on what you’re buying. Check out Save vs. Splurge: Workout Clothes and Gear.)
Racked reports that hundreds of thousands of people belong to this underground Lululemon resale community—the Canadian retailer’s “secondary market.” While online fans willing to pay insane markups on sold out or backordered merchandise aren't unheard of, it’s an activity you’re more likely to associate with luxury brands like Chanel or Louis Vuitton. “Lululemon has one of the highest sell-through rates on our site and that data has been consistent,” Tradesy CEO Tracy DiNunzio told Racked. “We’ll sometimes see similar interest with middle-market brands, but this type of demand is unheard of for athleisure.”
So, why exactly does an activewear brand like Lululemon make for such a hot commodity on the online resale market, up there with exclusive luxury designers? After all, anyone can shop at one of Lululemon's brick-and-mortar locations—sans waiting lists and snooty salespeople. Some of the brand’s biggest fans cite the company’s own policies as the main reasons for Lululemon’s boom in the resale market. Lululemon keeps merchandise scarce on purpose, releasing limited quantities of items and intentionally not restocking, leaving brand devotees to search frantically online for sold-out goods—hence the outrageously marked-up prices on apparel and accessories that generally ring in at under $150 retail. (Get to know 5 New Athleisure Companies Blending Fitness and Fashion.)
With athleisure becoming an increasingly popular trend with no sign of slowing down, we can’t say the scarcity model is such a bad strategy for Lululemon—we just aren’t completely sold on those $800 shorts.