Popular athletic clothing brand Lululemon has today unveiled a new outdoors clothing collection. While the brand's athletic wear is firmly established as a favourite in gyms and yoga studios – and is now also making waves in the running shoe market – this is its first foray into outdoors apparel. The Lululemon Hike range includes hiking trousers, fleece jackets, bags, hats and – our top pick – hike-to-swim shorts. It's currently only available in some UK stores, but is due to go online on 19 July.
Outdoor apparel is quite often all about the performance, with style trailing sadly behind – our rankings of the best walking trouser and best fleece jackets both have plenty of ultra-functional products, but only a handful you'd be happy to also wear about town, I suspect. That's probably the correct way round – looking cool won't keep you warm at on a cold night, and it won't ease the pain of a chafing hem or make a too-tight pair of trousers any more flexible either. But sometimes it might be nice to not throw looks out of the window entirely when heading into the great outdoors, you know?
Can Lululemon join the likes of The North Face and Fjällräven by combining fashion with function in its new range? It looks like it. The defining features are performance fabrics (lightweight, robust, some with sweat-wicking or water-resistant properties), cool colourways (outdoorsy neutrals mixed with pops of neon, vibrant purple or watercolour print), and unexpected, versatile shapes. There are lots of pockets, storage loops, and bits that pack down inside themselves or adjust with bungees. This does the double duty of adding a kind of utilitarian vibe and giving you lots of places to store, loop or stash things while out and about.
Most are designed to layer together to suit different temperatures and activities, but Lululemon has also focused on adaptability – and I don't just mean trousers that zip off into shorts (I'm not sure any brand can make these look cool, but there is an effort here, at least).
There are a few combos that are probably more for Insta than an actual mountaintop. I cannot think of a scenario in which I would reach for a water-repellent mini-skirt with sweat-wicking liner, nor a water-repellent fleece bomber jacket with zip-off sleeves, for example. But a standout of the range is the Lululemon Hike to Swim shorts. Everyone is into wild swimming these days, and who doesn't want the option of an impromptu dip if the perfect pool presents itself? The Hike to Swim Short is made with chlorine- and salt-resistant Lycra, have a silicone gripper on the hem to stop them riding up, and are designed to dry quickly too.
I haven't had a chance to test this range out yet, so I can't offer a real-world review yet. What I will say is that I've been very impressed with the other Lululemon products I've tried – they top our ranking of the best yoga leggings, and I have a pair of cycling shorts from this brand that I've worn to death, too. So I have high hopes for this collection.
"Our guests have always taken our products into the outdoors, so it was only natural to create a collection tailored… specifically for the needs of hiking," says Lululemon's Ben Stubbington. "We created a collection of adaptable pieces – convertible, packable, and water-resistant – intended to make it easier to spend more time outdoors. The collection adapts with unpredictable climates that the summer season brings. Most lululemon Hike pieces are 2-in-1, zip-off, and highly breathable, perfect for those hot summer days and cool nights".
If you're reading this from 19 July onwards, you should be able to check out the full collection on Lululemon online.