The endless pursuit of Lululemon “dupes” would appear to be an answer for the question “Are Lululemon leggings worth it?” If everyone is looking for a substitute then surely they can’t be worth $98+ a pop?
Usually I would say that depends on what you’re looking for: Just the look? Comfort? Longevity?
The Align pants are the famous leggings favoured by fitness influencers all over instagram and beyond. Lululemon carries many other different styles of leggings, but these are the big one, and the style that I will be referencing here. The trademark “V” waistband seam in the back is arguably what makes these leggings so flattering. So can’t this be found elsewhere?
Well, yes…. sort of. There are certainly other brands that have tried to do something similar but fall short in one of two areas:
- The waistband doesn’t fit the way that Lululemon does – Snug, but not compressive. Therefore fitted, but no bulging.
- The V shape is placed wrong, too subtle, or went extreme and looks like a thong
There are very likely similar leggings that I haven’t tried and it’s simply because I got tired of wasting my money on things that weren’t as good.
Again, I am no expert, but I haven’t tried a pair of leggings that matches the comfort of the align pants, and I’ve been through some leggings! The Nulu fabric is soft, and only gets softer with wear. It also retains its stretch throughout the day so there is no bagging out at the ankles or knees.
For comfort the closest I’ve found is the Aerie Play leggings, but these are still more synthetic feeling and the longevity is horrible. They get points for fun patterns and affordability, but since I try to be a sustainable gal, they aren’t my top choice.
This is where Lulu takes some heat. Their leggings are super soft and comfortable, but known for pilling. Do they pill? Almost inevitably, yes. As an experienced wearer I can tell you that they will pill anywhere they get a lot of friction, so unless you have a thigh gap, they’re going to be pilling in between your legs and in the crotch. They will also pill where the top of your boots rub, and eventually the seat. Wow! Pilling at this price? While it is annoying, I’ve gotten over it. I don’t find that the areas they pill are highly visible.
Supposedly their return policy covers pilling but I have heard they are cutting back on that recently. I know it’s because people would wear their leggings hard for 3+ years and return them for pilling, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any store to replace them at that point.
My own leggings that I have had for 3 years are still definitely wearable and they are only pilly at friction points like I mentioned, so unfortunately the bum is getting a little nubby, but I have easily worn these pants 100 times. I haven’t tried a fuzz shaver but I may take it to my older pairs and see what happens. I do have one pair that may be prematurely pilling in the seat, and if it gets bad I will contact customer service and I’m sure I won’t have any issues.
Having said all of this, there are many leggings that won’t pill. However, these are leggings that feel more synthetic and aren’t as comfortable. Apples to apples, super soft leggings across the board will have wear issues.
So are they worth it?
My best measure of value is cost per wear. When I started looking at clothing through this lens it allowed me to be more eco-friendly by taking the waste out of my wardrobe. I pay very little attention to the retail price and put the value on use. I wish I had tracked from the beginning and then I could say for sure, but I have worn my original black align pants at least 100 times. Probably more like 200-300 times. Conservatively they cost $0.50 – $1.00 per wear. Now every time I get a new pair, I will wear the originals a little less because I have a bigger rotation, but due to the pandemic I can confidently say that I have worn align pants 280+ of the past 365 days.
Yes. Totally, emphatically, worth it.
Want to try your first pair at a discount? Check out my post on How to Score a Deal on Lululemon!