Fashion

Family behind Lululemon branches out into T-shirts, streetwear

Lululemon has a new concept -- washable cashmere -- which can be found in the new Kit and Ace store in Minneapolis.
Lululemon has a new concept -- washable cashmere -- which can be found in the new Kit and Ace store in Minneapolis. TNS

The family that persuaded women to dole out $100 for yoga pants is now hoping to do the same with T-shirts.

The son and wife of the founder of Lululemon are in the midst of an aggressive rollout of a new concept called Kit and Ace. It’s predicated on a new cashmere blend material that is both soft and machine washable and is aimed at well-heeled young adults.

The shirts, priced at $68 to $138, are for people who have a “full-contact life” and want clothes that will hold up, said JJ Wilson, one of the brand’s co-founders and a self-professed T-shirt junkie.

Since launching last year, Wilson, and his stepmother, Shannon Wilson, have opened seven Kit and Ace stores. The Twin Cities is one of the first metro areas in the U.S. outside of New York and San Francisco to get one.

The duo are moving fast with plans to open at least another 15 other stores this summer in the U.S. and with hopes to get to 50 stores by the middle of next year, including outposts in Australia and Japan.

The Wilson family has invested about $7 million in Kit and Ace thus far.

JJ Wilson doesn’t shy away from the fact that Kit and Ace has borrowed a bit from the Lululemon playbook, noting that there was a lot to learn from the $1.8 billion sportswear company that now has more than 300 stores.

In addition to sharing a founding family, both Lululemon and Kit and Ace are based in Vancouver. They both focus on technical fabrics with similar, relatively high, prices.

And they both invite customers into their stores to do more than shop. While Lululemon hosts yoga classes, Kit and Ace hosts monthly supper clubs where local chefs provide the fare.

Lululemon declined to comment.

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