"LULULEMON VERY RARE W SHIMMER VBT shorts." Listed for $638.43 on Ebay.ca on March 18th, 2015.
Forget Vancouver real estate as a high-performing investment, the big money’s in polyester yoga pants.
Specifically yoga pants made by that brand people love and love to hate, Lululemon.
Yesterday on eBay.ca, a Vancouver woman had on offer a “limited run RARE” pair of Wunder Under Pants in a fluorescent multi-coloured and horizontal motif called Beachscape. Price: $899.99 Cdn.
And that wasn’t the most expensive posting. Next to it was a black pullover sweatshirt from another seller asking $1,146.87 Cdn, plus $25 in shipping costs and $138 for import duties, for a grand total of $1,310.
On the same page, “sprinkler blue speed shorts,” size 4, were listed for $798 Cdn.
Welcome to the Lululemon resale market, frowned upon by the Vancouver-based clothing giant and not openly discussed by participants.
The Vancouver seller of the Wunder Under Pants responded rather warily by email to an interview request — “I always wanted to tell my story as it’s quite a story but can’t for obvious reasons” — and followed up with an email declining.
“My lawyer said not to reply if nothing is in it for me as the last thing I need is more publicity; as you know, lulu discourages reselling.” Signed: ez2curg8.
She did tell racked.com that she makes a living flipping Lulu, has 1,100 eBay listings and sells 50 items a month.
The sellers can get outrageous amounts several times higher than retail for Lululemon because, like a Chanel suit or a Louis Vuitton handbag, they hold their value.
“Lululemon expert,” offering advice online on how to sell, explains the gear’s collectibility: “Some people must have all the Vinyasa scarves, others want an impressive collection of Wunder Under Pants. Some people collect all items in Teal Zeal, others must have Pique everything! I’m a sucker for Define jackets and Groove Pants.”
Fans note people are willing to shell out big bucks in secondary markets because of Lululemon’s “scarcity model” strategy of limiting stock even when it sells out.
Lululemon, faced with complaints from customers who would find coveted items — called “unicorns” in Lulu fan land — only on eBay, tried to crack down on online resellers by banning them from its online store, but had to back down after bad press.
Lululemon didn’t respond to an interview request but sent a “resale/counterfeit” FAQ: “We completely recognize that once someone purchases our product they can do what they want with it. We do not, however, support those who acquire large volumes of our product to resell at an elevated price point.”
There is a similar honour code among not-for-profit sellers, like the Vancouver Lululemon Swap ’n’ Shop Facebook page. It threatens to delete posts that appear to be for profit, “as we want this site to continue and not be shut down by the brand.”
But the for-profit seller ex2curg8 said in her email to The Province: “I will say that the members on Facebook lulu groups have no idea what goes into selling as the profit isn’t as much as one thinks, especially after fees, overhead, time and income taxes.”