It’s a not-so-well-kept secret in the sneaker industry that most shoes are designed based on a male foot (yes, even shoes made for women). The obvious issue with creating women’s shoes based on men’s feet is that they’re, well, different. However, Lululemon, everyone’s favorite activewear brand, is seeking to address this by venturing into the footwear market. While there is certainly no shortage of shoe options nowadays, Lululemon has yet to enter this category, and they are putting women at the forefront of their new release.
Bridging the Gap in Women’s Footwear Innovation
Several years ago, the brand first announced its highly anticipated plans to enter the footwear industry and spent approximately four years developing the new shoes, as confirmed by George Robusti, Lululemon’s vice president of footwear design. It is evident that their primary focus is getting this initial women’s shoe just right, as they do not even have plans to launch a men’s shoe until 2023. “When it comes to the shape of the foot, there are clear scientific data distinctions between men’s and women’s feet,” says Robusti. “If you’re using a one-size-fits-all approach, you can feel the difference. So, that was our starting point…we aimed to understand the differences in foot shapes between men and women and build a shoe based on that.”
When designing a running shoe, the brand aimed not only to create supportive and fashionable sneakers but also shoes that would fit exceptionally well. They applied the same design principle that serves as the foundation for their adored lululemon leggings. “We meticulously considered every aspect of the shoe, going beyond the initial fit,” explains Robusti. “From the seamless linings to the beautifully molded elements around the heel, the collar for a snug fit. The top of the tongue is sculpted to wrap around your foot instead of cutting into it while running…these are all meticulous details that contribute to the overall experience,” he adds.
“We intentionally prioritized women because we recognized an opportunity to address the fact that performance shoes are typically designed for men and then modified for women,” stated Sun Choe, Lululemon’s chief product officer in a press release. “That didn’t sit well with us. Innovation for women is ingrained in Lululemon’s identity, and now we are applying that expertise to footwear, with women playing a crucial role in this journey.”
During the research and development phase, Lululemon scanned the feet of millions of women and used that data to create the Blissfeel shoes from scratch. They continuously tested the sneakers and gathered feedback from women. It is this feedback that ultimately shaped the final collection of shoes, including the Blissfeel running shoes, the Chargefeel (a cross-training shoe), the Restfeel (a recovery slide), and the Strongfeel (a training shoe). These shoes are now available both in Lululemon stores and online.
(For your information, the cost varies between $58 to $148.)
Putting the Lululemon Blissfeel Shoes to the Test
Unnecessary to mention, I was thrilled at the opportunity to try out the Lululemon Blissfeel Running Shoes (Purchase it, $148, lululemon.com) and I practically haven’t taken them off ever since.
As a fitness editor and certified trainer, I tend to engage in various workouts, and my weekly regimen mix varies, to put it mildly. And although these sneakers are specifically designed for running, I was pleasantly surprised that they accompanied me from a jog on one day, to a dance cardio class the next, and I even wore them during my weekly fusion of meditation and HIIT and strength training class at Mind Body Project without any complaints. When I initially laid my eyes on the Blissfeels, I immediately adored the soft pink shade and vibrant green accent — the ideal colors to transition my workout attire into the spring and summer seasons. However, if pink does not align with your preferences, there is no need to fret since the shoe is available in 10 different colors.
Upon slipping them on for the first time, I immediately noticed the support and cushioning (which is “a technology of foam cushioning under the foot that is full of energy,” as stated by the brand) — it offered just the right amount to provide me with some bounce and spring without feeling excessively padded or disruptive. The upper part of the sneaker is also flexible, and my ankle did not experience any stiffness or restriction in the shoe. If I were to compare the fit and feel to other sneakers in the market, I would position the Lululemon sneakers somewhere between the Adidas Ultraboost (with slightly more support yet retaining their flexibility) and a Hoka One Bondi shoe (with less cushioning).
The Blissfeel is categorized as a neutral running shoe, which aligns with the type of shoe I typically run in (for what it’s worth, a running shoe fit specialist advised me that neutral shoes are the best match for my feet and running gait). When I embarked on my first outdoor run wearing them, I wasn’t expecting a completely smooth run without the need to pause and adjust anything or deal with a blister, since the shoes were brand new, but truthfully, none of those issues occurred.
They felt lightweight, buoyant, supportive, and precisely what I seek in a running shoe as someone who runs more informally (aka I don’t participate in races or long-distance runs, usually). I even had a dance cardio class at DanceBody later that day and decided to don the Blissfeels since they were incredibly cozy. I vouch for a specific design of footwear for my weekly dance sessions and normally never deviate, but I made an exemption for the Lululemon sneakers, and my feet felt remarkable throughout the entire vigorous class that entails a lot of leaping.
The summary: if you’re searching for a balanced running shoe that is also adaptable (meaning it can effortlessly transition from running to walking around the city and endure other workouts like dancing or HIIT classes), the Blissfeel is the perfect choice. I cannot comment on their performance during extremely long runs or extensive training sessions for marathons or races. However, as someone who intends to increase outdoor running as the weather becomes warmer, these will be my new preferred footwear. And based on my encounter with the Blissfeel, you can count me in for all the other Lululemon shoes available in the future.
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