With day hiking becoming more popular during the pandemic, active apparel brands are dipping into the outdoor category to better serve their consumer base. One such brand is Lululemon, the coveted activewear company known for pioneering athleisure with their beloved legging. It’s been 24 years since the brand first launched and their latest innovation is the release of a Hike Collection coming on July 5, 2022.
“We wanted to do something slightly different than other brands, whose apparel doesn’t make you feel enveloped in nature,” says Ben Stubbington, Lululemon’s Senior Vice President of Design. “We’ve tried to create something that doesn’t act as a barrier, that makes you feel more connected to nature.”
Fabric colors, for example, borrow from the palette of the outdoors with a range of soft nudes and greens, pastel-patterned pieces and the occasional neon detail to represent the elements. “We designed the line so when you look around, you see the colors of the fabrics in nature,” explains Stubbington, highlighting how a pop of yellow mirrors the sun and a colorful legging and short presents a collage of light purple, blue and yellow to portray the palette of wild flowers.
But to Lululemon, being one with nature on a hike requires more than blending into the environment, it’s about the practicality of the pieces. “We wanted to bring people closer to nature but also feel as comfortable as possible,” says Stubbington.
Lululemon has not overlooked the details, with everything in the 33-piece line designed to make hiking easier and more enjoyable. Abrasion-resistant seams reduce friction for chafe-free climbs while lightweight fabrics make the items more breathable.
One such example is the ‘Grid Fleece Hiking Overshirt’ which is made of a grid-textured mesh fleece fabric that locks in the heat when it’s cold but is still breathable when it gets hot. It’s also water-repellant and has pockets on the chest, arm sleeve and side of the stomach for carrying items.
Other pieces are highly adaptable to enable hikers to be comfortable in a variety of climates, like the water-resistant and windproof ‘Convertible Ripstop Hiking Jacket’ which features zip-off sleeves and a mesh opening in the back to maximize airflow. It even has a shoulder bag built into the side pocket that can be easily zipped off and used as a lightweight purse. The jacket can be rolled up into a small bundle for easy packing.
Every detail is considered, like loops on bottoms to attach carabiners and chest pockets on t-shirts that are shaped with a wider base and narrower top to prevent your phone from falling out when you bend over.
Convenience and comfort is equally as prioritized with the eight accessories included in the collection. The ‘LiftOS Hiking Backpack 25L’ is made with a water-repellent material and has been designed so that once it’s packed, it sits higher on the back, removing strain from the shoulders. The back panel is also curved for added lumbar support and to help transfer weight to the hip.
The entire collection is packable, stretchable and highly adjustable to maximize convenience and encourage hikers to get outdoors. The phrase “detours are welcome” is subtly sprinkled throughout the line—on the back of sports bras and above the hip pockets on leggings. “For us it’s about a sense of adventure,” says Stubbington. “We want to invite people to get out and enjoy nature.”
With a variety of terrains in mind, some pieces like the ‘Hike to Swim Bra’ are designed to be functional both while hiking and swimming, to encourage hikers to not let their clothing prevent them from experiencing all that nature has to offer. The bra is made with Esca fabric and Xtra Life Lycra for stretch and shape retention, and improved chlorine and salt resistance.
“Detours are welcome” is not limited to nature. Stubbington tells Forbes the collection has been designed to take hikers from the trails to everyday activities, like socializing in the city. “It’s really hard to make a cutoff pant that doesn’t look dorky,” says Stubbington, highlighting how they’ve worked hard to balance style with functionality.
“Traditionally outdoors clothing isn’t stylish,” says the Lululemon Senior Vice President of Design. “We want people to feel as comfortable on a hike as you would in the city.” It’s why features like zippers for removing sleeves and legs are subtle and the overall color palette of the collection is neutral, to make the pieces stylish through everyday life.
“It’s about having fun and community, and connection,” says Stubbington. The connection Stubbington is referring to is not just between the hiker and nature, but also between human beings. It’s why the collection has prioritized gender neutrality, exemplified by the aforementioned floral-inspired shorts that can be worn by all genders and a general theme of keeping the form of pieces flexible to different body shapes.
As the brand that normalized athleisure as everyday wear, it’s no surprise Lululemon’s newest Hike Collection follows suit, with a line of pieces that are not only functional and comfortable, but stylish enough for a variety of environments—from the outdoors to the city and everywhere in between.