Lululemon, the Vancouver, British Columbia–based clothing manufacturer, has made a minority investment in cycling apparel company 7Mesh. That’s great news for 7Mesh, which should benefit from the athletic-wear juggernaut’s marketing and distribution know-how, and a blessing for consumers who will hopefully start to see more and even better gear from the Squamish, British Columbia–based cycling brand.
“We are looking forward to input and guidance from a big technical-apparel brand,” says Tyler Jordan, CEO of 7Mesh, though he’s quick to point out that 7Mesh will retain its independent structure and vision.
For Lululemon, it’s a smart investment, as the company has struggled to crack the riding market.
A couple years ago, Lululemon sent a box of new, house-built cycling apparel to Outside for consideration. The patterning and fabrics looked fine, and few of the male editors in the office were mildly interested in the apparel. But I couldn’t bring myself to wear the stuff. In my estimation, black cherry and aubergine are things you pick up at the grocery store—not colors for road jerseys and mountain bike shorts. And given that the gear is strikingly absent from Lululemon’s website today, it’s clear that the market agreed.
Lululemon and 7Mesh don’t seem like obvious partners, but the two companies have a lot in common. There’s the B.C. connection, of course, and I’d argue that 7Mesh has also had marketing challenges.
A little over a year ago, I got a box of new winter road bike apparel from 7Mesh. As with most of the company’s gear, it was excellent—built from top-shelf fabrics and patterned just right. I took it to our annual bike test for others to try, and the feedback was resoundingly positive. But it struck me that of the 20 or so testers, few if any had heard of 7Mesh outside of my coverage.
It’s a pity that 7Mesh hasn’t gotten more traction, because the company, whose core team hails from Arc’teryx and Assos, is bringing high-quality technical gear to the cycling world. “A lot of the gear on the market gets wet and heavy in difficult conditions, and it doesn’t protect you,” says Jordan. “Our goal is to create light, functional, durable equipment with a premium on fit and moisture management. It’s an alpinist’s approach to riding.”
I’ve seen how well it works. Though purposefully understated and somewhat pricey, many of the company’s pieces—including the MK1 Bibshorts, Re:Gen Jacket, Glidepath Short, S2S Jersey, and Corsa Softshell Jersey—have found their way into my permanent collection because they are higher performing than much of the gear out there.
Jordan says the partnership with Lululemon will make 7Mesh’s products even better. “The collaboration came after a long conversation about how we can we work together to build better products and improve the experience for the end user,” he says. “At the core, it’s an R&D collaboration.” Jordan says that 7Mesh’s access to the Whitespace, a three-year-old world-class research center in Vancouver created by Lululemon to fuel its ventures, is already yielding innovative new products.
Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin underscores the point. “In bringing together 7Mesh’s extensive technical apparel expertise and performance-focused mindset with the capabilities of our industry-disrupting R&D Whitespace team,” he says, “we [are shooting to perfectly] blend fashion and function to co-create transformational products for our guests.”
Here at Outside, we’re excited to see what comes of this partnership. But one word of advice: Focus on performance, and leave the fruits and berries for the supermarket.