lululemon-vs-costco

Is Lululemon worth the price?

Are we paying through the nose for a brand name, or are we paying for quality?

Here I am wearing a $99.00 Lululemon on the left, and a $14.99 Costco item on the right. Which one is better? That raises a great question. When lululemon first came out it was designed, and manufactured in Vancouver, BC Canada.

When I was home for the Christmas holidays I went to Costco with my Mom to pick up a few things. I noticed the inexpensive active wear and picked up a white zip up jacket. At first glance I looked down at my clothing and thought they fit the same on my body. That was until I took a photograph of the two on the same day, and saw that there was noticeable difference in the two. For comparison sake, I am wearing a size 4 Lululemon Run: Distance Pullover (no longer online but here is something similar), and the Costco zipup is a size small.

I’m not sure why I tend to favor white warmup tops, because I can’t seem to get over the fact that my deodorant stains the armpits a faint yellow in such a short time. Both the Lululemon pullover, and the zipup from Costco are equally as “stained” however the Lululemon one was purchased in January 2011 and the Costco in December 2011. I try not to wear my Lululemon one as often because it was so expensive. So I tend to wear the zipup one more to CrossFit. Plus, it’s easier to get off quicker as it’s a full zip and not a half.

You can notice that both tops have the thumb hole’s. But in the arm area of the Costco version, it’s larger. I feel like the Costco one fits great in the body, but could do with a smaller arm size. The Lululemon one is tight all over and as for the thumb loops, they fit great. Except when you want to fold the flap over to have it cover your hands fully. I feel like my fingers would feel more comfortable if they’re straight out, but the Lululemon hand covers make them curled. Does that make sense?

I haven’t purchased anything from the Lululemon website in ages. Mainly for the fact that 3 pairs of my 4 crops that I own by them have had stitching come undone after the first few wears! C’mon, how does that happen? Lululemon’s customer service is pretty top notch though. I sent in photos and they examined them and said it was a quality control issue. Darn right it was. My legs aren’t that muscular, to break threads like that.

Lululemon is still designed in Canada, but now manufactured in China.  This happened a number of years ago, therefor I felt that the quality of the items at Lululemon are no longer what they used to be. There seems to be more pilling issues happening on the groove pants, and of course the noted threads coming undone on the empower crops, and zoom crops that I own. Perhaps I’m coming cheaper in my old age (lol) but I expect a lot more from a pair of $100 pants, or top. Which is why I wanted to compare the two: Lululemon vs Costco.

The fabric on the Lululemon top feels a bit more luxurious but if you felt both at separate times, you’d think they were made from the exact same material. The Costco version is a fraction of the cost, but the quality is way up there. I think that if Costco made their jackets a little more fitted like Lululemon, more people would buy from them. Sure I as heck am going to keep shopping there, especially if my parents have an ongoing membership at Costco. But that means I’ll also have to wait til I fly back to Newfoundland to shop there.

I don’t have any complaints about the Costco jacket whatsoever. Just little nit picky things about the fit. As for Lululemon, sure they have amazing designs, keep bringing out great products, and the jacket I’m wearing above looks better as there are different seams and colors incorporated into the design. But overall, I’m not sure if it’s worth the hundred bucks anymore. Will I keep shopping there? Well, yes quite frankly I will — because they always have good sales on their online store plus free shipping. They just need to address the quality control issues on the pants. Until then I won’t buy any more crops from them.

Do you have any expensive workout clothes, or do you stick to non-name brand such as Costco?

I’m off to mail my parents an Easter surprise package in this massive corrugated box. I hope shipping costs isn’t through the roof! (I’m covering their address with my hand in case you’re wondering what the random high five’ing of the box was for).

38 thoughts on “Is Lululemon worth the price?

  1. I must admit I love the look of Lulu but have yet to jump on the boat due to the cost. I have a wide range of workout clothes from Nike to Target C9 gear. I love it all and find that they are all quite comparable in quality. I think people get so hung up on the names that they forget to look at quality and oftentimes can pass up an awesome “deal” on a great item. Thanks for highlighting this!

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  2. Definitely an interesting post! I will say that my Lulu tanks have worked out better than any other kinds of I had in regards to “riding up” during running or yoga. AND sometimes you can find Lulu on a great sale … I got my favorite tank for 1/3 of the price on the sale rack the other month :)

    BUT I think you can definitely find good clothes at a more affordable price :)

    Nancy says: Oh man do I ever love the lulu sales!

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  3. Marcia says:

    I love Lulu styling but gag on the $$$. That said I have a few items I got when hubby ‘twisted my arm’ to pick something out as a gift. I do enjoy their cute seams and details and nothing I have has fallen apart. But I still think the bulk of what they’re charging for is brand cachet.

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  4. Christine says:

    I too scoffed at Lulu because of the price but I’ve fallen a bit head over heels. I do love the designs and how it fits. I also find that I feel more confident wearing Lulu. Go figure. I agree with Madeline that the tops stay put and don’t ride up. That being said, I can’t afford to completely outfit myself in Lulu so I try to mix it up with other less expensive brands like C9 from Target and Old Navy.

    Nancy says: I can’t wait for Target to arrive in Canada, I think it’s launching next year. Do their tops ride up? That’s a big bummer with some active wear I own. I’m also pleased with the Lululemon tops not riding up. Huge plus there.

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  5. Leanne says:

    I only own two tanks and a pair of shorts from LuLulemon and they are all in perfect condition (so far anyway). I actually have that same Costco jacket in purple as well! I bought it in spring 2010, I believe. I like BOTH, but I find that Lululemon fits my body shape better. And the shorts don’t fall down when running, they just cling on (I have tried SO many shorts, pants, etc. that are suppose to “hug” the hips but they just fall down when I run… ugh. so annoying).

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  6. Claudia says:

    I have a pair of Lululemon pants that they don’t make any more, but I love them. I’ve had them for nearly seven years, and they’re flare bottom yoga pants that turn inside out and right side in, with a white stripe around the waist on the one side (similar to these: http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/yoga/Groove-Pant-Regular-32092?cc=5231&skuId=3441278&catId=yoga) . Anyhow, maybe I got them before they were made in China, but I haven’t experienced any pilling, pulling or thread issues with mine at all. The only time I had them “in” was to have them hemmed. The only thing I have noticed about them is that they’re a bit faded, but I wear them all the time, so I don’t hold it against them.

    One issue my SIL has/had with Costco pants is that she feels like the elastic goes in them quickly, in the lycra blend they use. As a petite woman, they bag, sag, and drag on the floor after wearing them for a couple of hours, and the capri length is not exactly flattering on short people.

    Nancy says: I have 3 pairs of Groove pants, and I think at least one of them are from the more recent dates where they’re not manufactured in Canada. Being that they’re the newest, they’re also in the worst state. I don’t wear my Groove pants much anymore though, so that’s not the hugest issue for me.

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  7. Kristen says:

    I miss the days when lululemon was made in Canada. I believe the quality was better at that point as well. That being said, I had an embarrassing amount of lululemon in my workout wardrobe. In general, I’ve found the fit to be much better than cheaper alternatives (I am the same size as you are and find the Costco stuff to be not quite right) and the price per wear ends up being pretty good. I wear and wash my lulu workout clothes a LOT and haven’t had any problems.

    When you look at other brand names like New Balance, Nike, Mizuno ect., they are similarly priced compared to lulu. And since I still feel some patriotic loyalty to the brand (even if it isn’t still made in Canada, it is designed here), if I’m putting out the big bucks for brand name, I’ll usually check out lululemon first.

    Nancy says: Uggs and Lululemon together = typical University attire around my city a few years ago. haha, I did the same though. I also love supporting Canadian companies but unfortunately there isn’t a store in my city (but there’s a local gym that sells lululemon clothing… not sure how they swung that deal).

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  8. Vanessa Lodge says:

    I AM SOOOO GLAD YOU WROTE THIS!

    I have known for quite sometime about the quality issue of lululemon. They are good quality, however, not for the price. I have also experienced the same issue where my lulu pants that I bought before they were manufacctured in China are in much better state than the new items. I have a love/hate relationship with LuLulemon. The piling of the pants is ridiculous. I have even been told by in-store LuLulemon staff to buy a “de-piler”. Are you effing kidding me? Customers pay almost $100 for a pair of yoga pants and are told to buy a de-piler. Maybe they should combine a de-piler with every pair of pants they sell. Let’s see how long they stick around.

    I am waiting for the day when another company can sell workout clothes at the same level as Lululemon. More and more people are catching on that the quality of lulu has gone way down since the beginning.

    Nanc, I propose that you send this blog post and the comments to Lulu themselves to know what their customers think.

    On the other hand, LuLu can continue with their quality/price because people continue to buy. Change will only happen when their sales go down..

    Just me ranting., but thank you for this post. This has been on my mind for a couple years now and I hate how the quality of LuLu was much much better when they first started.

    Nancy says: Hey van thanks for the comment!!! I appreciate it. I’m laughing so hard at your de-pilling comment with selling it with the pants. But seriously though? I am SOOO not happy with the crops unraveling at all. I’ve boycotted their crops since it happened the THIRD time! I’ve tweeted this blog post TO lululemon. Let’s see if they read these comments…. hmm!

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  9. Aline says:

    Can’t say much about lululemon quality as i don’t own any of their stuff. From what i’ve read on your blog, you seemed to like them a lot.

    Anyway,what can i say from the pictures is that the lululemon design looks great and shapes to your body a bit better. Still if the Costco is confortable and just as good as the lululemon one, there’s no reason to pay a difference of 85 dollars just for design.

    I’m a big fan of Adidas stuff, but have some cheap items from department stores. Also, i always wait for sales to buy a pricier item. I really want to buy a new running skort (this one more precisely: http://www.adidas.com/us/product/womens-running-supernova-skort/QZ167AA ) but the price around here is 100 Reais, which is too much. So i’ll just wait.

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  10. Erica says:

    My sister swears by lulu, I on the other hand have been doing just fine with my $12 sweats from Walmart. I can’t justify spending an insane amount of money on a pair of workout pants. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to lose weight but their prices just seem a little to high. Not to mention, the closest store is almost an hr away.

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  11. Brittany says:

    I LOVE Lululemon… The way it fits, the way it looks on my body. BUT… I did notice the pilling along the seams of one of my jackets and was not happy about it. I agree with you… If they’re going to continue to charge such exorbitant prices, they need to pay attention to the fabric and quality of craftsmanship when making these products. One thing I continue to be impressed with is the way their fabric retains its elasticity and shape… I always feel like my pants are nice and snug against me, unlike many other brands I’ve tried that get saggy and baggy over time!!

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  13. Krystina says:

    I find that lulu is way better for me then a regular Costco brand ! I recently bought a pair of shorts from there for dance n I never had an issue with them yet unlike my old ones which kept on rising up which looked weird ! Also even my dance teacher loves there stuff I had to get a pair of capris n pants from lulu for two of my competition dances just because they look so nice n are smooth for dancing ! I also just love wearing them for everyday use like the scuba sweaters because there so comfy, same with the pants. Plus I have so much lululemon stuff it’s not even funny, compare to the yoga brand bench-lulu is 10 times better since 3 of my bench sweaters has holes but the three lulu ones I have are perfectly fine :)!

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  14. Tina says:

    I fed that the fun/funky prints and styles are no longer there with Lulu, their stuff is boring now.

    That being said, I have loads of their stuff from about 2 years ago. Nowadays I can regularly leave their stores without buying anything. I mean, how many grey or band colours does a gal need?

    I was just on their web site and was gobsmacked by the insane price increases over last year and the year before! Glad I’ve taken good care of my Lulu goodies and they still fit as they have overpriced themselves.

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  15. Mary says:

    Quality has definitely gone downhill at Lululemon. I haven’t bought anything there in well over a year. Pants and crops are see-through when you bend over, colors bleed, seems fall apart after a handful of wears; things are certainly going downhill fast in terms of quality. If anything, I’ve been searching for older pre-loved items that are in good to great condition that I know will stand the test of time versus the stuff from the last 1-2 years.

    Recently went into an American Apparel store and saw some knock-off wunder under pants and boogie shorts. The material felt much softer and thicker than the current Lululemon stuff.

    Really wish that Lulu would fix all these quality issues to make things the same as when everything was made in Canada.

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  16. Shannon says:

    I don’t know if you know this, but there were 2 creators of Lululemon years ago. For whatever reasons before Lulu turned into a business the business partners separated, and one created the Lululemon stores, and the other sold an almost identical line to Costco…

    Nancy says: Whoa I had no idea!

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  17. I realize this blog is old but I thought it was really great in terms of observations of Lululemon vs other athletic wear. I do feel the quality of Lululemon’s clothing has gone down over the years. I have a pair of yoga pants I have had for several years, and they still wear great. However, last year I was given a pair of their running pants. After the first wear, the jacket I was wearing chaffed the upper legs. I still wear them, but they haven’t met my quality standards as with past Lululemon garments. Funny enough, because of this incident, I started my own specialty product for the active women called Urban Running Girl-a running shrug in lieu of a jacket for those not so cold days.. So I suppose it turned out a positive for me. I still will purchase from Lululemon, but I’m very particular. I also have that Costco jacket (in purple) and I found it to be a great find for a great price.

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  18. Diana says:

    Well your clearly not a tall woman so a thing Costco
    Sells clothing wise is often too damn short in the
    Legs and arms do
    I’m
    Screwed payi g insane amount for one stupid
    Pair of workout pants. Lucky you

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  19. Laura says:

    Just read this; thanks!

    I agree with the quality. I have a pair of pants that are about 5 years old, still look brand new. I bought a new pair a year ago and within a few wears they started piling……so frusterating considering I am almost 6 feet tall so lulu’s are the only brand that fit in length for me. I even wash them seperate etc. as instructed by the sales clerk.
    Now I have been told by several friends who are lulu junkies that the 100 wash yoga pant at Marks Work Warehouse are very comparable and at a great price point. They are also supposed to be long for us tall ladies. I think a trip is in order to check them out.
    If anyone else has any other suggestions for great yoga pants that come in a tall fit I would love to hear back.
    Cheers

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  20. Marta says:

    I have also experienced poor quality from Lulu (pilling, treads at the seams, weird fit in the tops). I just ordered a pair of capri leggings from Beyond Yoga for $66 – which is less than Lulu. I have never tried them but am pleased with the experience so far – made in America, shipping to Canada is $7.95 and there shouldn’t be any duty (since made in America). Looking forward to trying them!

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  21. Candace says:

    I’m sorry to hear some of the not so positive comments regarding lulu, because i adore every piece that i own. I agree the prices are steep, and especially with the movement of manufacturing to China, 100$ a pop is eye popping.

    But having said that, I feel the quality of each of the several pairs of pants, and a couple of jackets that I own are all absolutely pristine! Absolutely everything about them including the way they wear when working out, etc… I haven’t been this comfortable in sweat gear since dance class as a girl where all we were allowed to wear was a black body suit and Mondor microfiber tights. You can move and stretch and run and everything stays exactly where it should. I love the little things they think of, like perfectly sized pockets in just the right spots; or the more breathable fabrics under the arms of my jacket.

    The thought behind the design alone is worth the price for me. I’ll continue to buy Lulu until I feel any or all of these parameters have changed. Although, I wont have to very often.. I still have, and wear often, my very first pair of lulu pants. They’re approximately 6 years old. Can’t say I have much confidence that any of those Cost-co or other “off” brands could hope to see such a long life.

    PS: the hand warmers on the running jackets, are for just that. running. For most, loose fists are a comfortable and natural position whilst doing so. I understand if maybe that doesn’t quite suit you. But you asked so.. there’s my insight. :)

    Thanks for the blog, and the opportunity to comment!

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  22. Kristy Short says:

    I really like LuLu but I generally stick to Costco brand or One Tooth due to price. I think that LuLu is more stylish but I think the quality would be equal to One Tooth.

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  23. Heatherm says:

    I am not a fan of lululemon. when they started out I thought, cool, made in Vancouver! Canada! but found the yoga wear trend a bit much. I bought some cheap lululemon style pants at a discount retailler for much less money that have held up just as well. I bought 2 pairs of lululemon pants once for my birthday back when they were still made in Canada, and had to struggle to find cotton ones.
    They have manufactured in China for some time now and i think it is awful. You cannot base your brand on being ethical, yogalike, designed in Vancouver and use cheap chinese labour.
    Whenever a company wants to expand and go big, they shift manufacturing to China in an effort to keep up, but in the end lose out because they lose control of manufacturing(there was just a major recall because of such an issue), and in the end have to make everything ‘cheaper’ in order to make a profit. They would have been better to stay a bit smaller, more niche. If you can order online, no need to have stores everywhere.
    Costco is just a discount store which carries all kinds of goods. You can either support a smaller up and coming fitness wear company or go for low end. The designs and trends all trickle down, so why pay more unless you can find something made in the USA or Canada? In fact, all the different brands are often made in one factory. They will do a lululemon contract, and a cheap brand contract at another time, or even at the same time.
    Occasionally made in China is very well made, but it depends on the company and their standards.

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  24. Claire M says:

    There’s a company called One Tooth Yoga that manufactures in Lululemon’s old factories in B.C. They don’t have as much selection, but the quality is good and pricing is a bit less than Lululemon.

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  25. Susan T. says:

    I buy a few special items at Lulu only if they are really unique and then buy my basics at Costco or Walmart and replace them every year.

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  26. Melanie D says:

    I think the quailty has gone WAY downhill since they started producing in China. Such a shame. I rarely shop at lulu anymore. Workout clothing can be so beautiful now! I run a lot, so I need a lot of running clothes (it’s a healthy habit!!). Nike and MPG clothing is beautiful, and I can often find their stuff at winners. byebye lululemon

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  27. Sheena says:

    I have a pair of lulu capris that I will wear until they literally fall off my body, because they were that expensive. I’m fairly large-chested, so a lot of their tops don’t fit me fabulously well, but I think their stuff looks great on everyone else!
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  28. Jessica @ Organicall says:

    Great post! I agree that lulu is just so damn expensive and it is a shame that now they make their clothes in China. That’s too bad that 3 of our 4 pants have stitching undone on them. I will stick to Costco & other not name brand workout clothes for now LOL! I do love the Ellie collection though, you can save 20% if you order by clicking the banner on my site {www.organicallyou.net} they have a program where you can pick any 2 items a month for only $50! Great quality pieces & super cute :)
    I have never owned a lulu piece, just don’t see the point! I’m not made of money!

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  29. Anne Taylor says:

    I honestly can’t purchase anything from LuLu Lemon. Too expensive…….. ridiculously expensive really. (I had 3 girls who wanted their products and there was no way I could afford that) I’m also upset that they now manufacture in China.

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  30. Danielle says:

    I believe your just paying for the brand name as it is a very popular name. You can achieve the same look with something cheaper and wont break the pocket book.

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  31. Areta says:

    I don’t mind LULU products even if they are a bit more expensive. I do appreciate how others feel in regards to the quality vs price.

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  32. Sarah says:

    Lulu from several years ago was GREAT quality. Now, I have a gift card I’m waiting to use because I don’t want to waste it on pants that will have my panties on display.

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