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Lululemon’s first U.S. flagship in Santa Monica, Calif., celebrates LA’s obsession with yoga, health and fitness




Last November, yoga and activewear retailer Lululemon Athletica (Vancouver, British Columbia) bid a fond farewell to its location on Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica, Calif., its first-ever U.S. store that opened more than 10 years ago. But it didn’t travel very far.

The brand trucked its high-end leggings, tanks and athletic gear literally around the corner to a much larger space along the Third Street Promenade – Santa Monica’s bustling upscale shopping and entertainment complex. The 5766-square-foot shop, with its striking blue-and-green, glass-paneled mosaic storefront, now serves as the retailer’s first official flagship.

“Los Angeles is an epicenter of yoga, health and fitness,” Lululemon spokesperson Colleen Angeles told Los Angeles magazine. “Sweating is a lifestyle here. Our technical athletic apparel is created for these sweaty pursuits, and we knew that [Santa Monica] was the perfect place.”

Lululemon’s design crew partnered with Los Angeles-based architecture firm Menemsha Solutions to shape up the existing space, including demolishing an extra 1000-square-foot floor that was used by the previous tenant, allowing for a higher ceiling in the fitting room area.

Coastal details aplenty, the flagship serves as a community hub, with a designated spot for events, such as yoga classes and running workshops, two art gallery spaces to showcase local artists and musicians, and an expanded men’s section.

“Community is at the heart of who we are at Lululemon. Every one of our 300 stores is informed and inspired by the community, from [the] design aesthetic to use-of-space, including our new flagship concept in Santa Monica,” says Camille Johnston, store designer for Lululemon Athletica.


According to Ryan Weller, project manager at Menemsha, the City of Santa Monica Planning Department and the Architectural Review Board stipulated a minimum 50-percent visibility from the sidewalk into the store along Broadway and the Third Street Promenade. “This effort required an entirely custom fixture design that provided maximum transparency and curb appeal,” Weller says. The in-store fixture solutions included two-way, pole-mounted slatwall, portable cubbies and staggered display windows that enabled visibility while creating an opportunity to highlight the product.

From the colorful façade to the steel awning along the storefront that mimics tide pools along a seashore, there’s no shortage of visual allure from the store’s exterior. Words of wisdom – “Live the sweat life,” “Seek adventure,” “Find your edge”– were laser cut backwards into the steel so that when light hits the structure, the phrases project onto the ground.

More oceanic details await inside, including a driftwood-inspired, wood-wrapped ceiling in the store’s entry and a 20-foot-wide, glass-tiled, dome-shaped mural bearing Lululemon’s manifesto: “Breathe deeply.” Its women’s section is anchored by light chestnut and white oak finishes which, combined with the store’s polished concrete floor and whitewashed brick walls, enhance the southern California vibe.

Active gents can browse the location’s expanded 750-square-foot men’s section – the retailer’s largest offering in the U.S., aside from its recently opened 1600-square-foot standalone men’s store in New York’s SoHo. The men’s area is filled with product in the Sweat, Post-Sweat and No Sweat activity categories; and despite the section’s masculine aesthetic comprising dark walnut and black metal fixtures, the design team notes the two areas “seamlessly flow in a yin-yang transition.”

Never one to be caught savasana-ing, Lululemon says it updates and renovates all of its stores when the time is right, to best serve the community. And the Santa Monica region, with its ample yoga studios, endless sunny days and easygoing style, was indeed the prime place for an inaugural flagship in the States. 



Lululemon, Vancouver, British Columbia

REI, Newtown, Conn.

WAM Industries Ltd., Toronto

Amanti Teak Planks, Irvine, Calif.
Surtec Systems, Tracy, Calif.

CSL, City of Industry, Calif.

Jones Sign Company, San Diego


Emser Tile & Natural Stone, Tukwila, Wash.
Amanti Teak Planks, Irvine, Calif.

Architecture and General Contractor
Menemsha Solutions, Los Angeles

Photography: Courtesy of Lululemon, Vancouver, British Columbia



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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