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Lululemon debuts its first US flagship store concept


Lululemon Santa Monica's new flagship
Lululemon Santa Monica’s new flagship (Photos: John Watkins)

While you were basting your tofurkey and rocking out to your holiday Gratitude playlist, Lululemon Santa Monica was wheeling its racks of leggings and tanks a few blocks away to the Third Street Promenade, where the fitness fashion giant just opened its new flagship-style store.

The new store will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday, though it’s open now, so you can check out some of the details that “LA Lululemon Maven” and spokesperson Colleen Angeles (yes, Angeles) says make this larger store different that the now-shuttered location on Santa Monica Boulevard.

“Our flagship locations serve as testing grounds for innovation–whether it’s through store design, use of space and community experiences. Our flagship concept for Santa Monica addresses the needs of this community with its expanded footprint offering distinct men’s and women’s shopping experiences with full product assortments of our beautiful technical athletic apparel as well as a larger community gathering space to connect our guests and the Promenade community at large,” she says.

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Like other Lululemon stores, it will offer free in-store classes and workshops—and an ambassador program that includes a half-dozen instructors, like Gina Heekin of SoulCycle (she probably won’t bring yellow bikes into the store, but you could visit her down the street for some hairography) to Kat Ryan of Revolution Fitness and Hot 8. Accommodating them at this location should be no problem—it’s nearly double the size of a typical store at 5,800 square feet, making it one of Lululemon’s largest retail spaces to date.

This is the second flagship concept store for Lululemon, the first being on Vancouver’s swish Robson Street, which opened in August. And the brand says they’ll be opening a third on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach before the year’s end.

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Why not New York, say, where Lululemon has myriad locations including a new men’s store? “We have deep roots in the community of Santa Monica,” explains Angeles, stemming from the the fact that it was Lululemon’s first location in the United States (opened July, 2003).

She’s also very aware of Santa Monica’s and LA’s serious health-and-fitness focus and that printed yoga leggings are (rightly) regarded as a daily wardrobe staple. It’s an ethos, which other indie brands like Vie Active and YogaSmoga know all about, too, having opened this fall in Venice and Brentwood, respectively. And one that Nike is hip too, having just opened a women’s store in Fashion Island.

“As a company that creates technical athletic apparel and is rooted in yoga, we have a natural connection with LA,” Angeles says. “Sweating is a lifestyle here.” —Melisse Gelula

Lululemon Santa Monica, Third Street Promenade, at Broadway, Santa Monica, www.lululemon.com