Monday, March 19, 2012

Lululemon Ride On Blazer: A Modern Take on the Riding Jacket

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
Having recently added a cycling collection to their lines of  yoga and running apparel, Vancouver-based Lululemon sent me and a couple of other bloggers some samples to test and review. The cycling collection is called Ride On and consists of some rather diverse items, from stretch-denim shorts to exuberant raincoats. I found the blazer to be the most interesting and versatile piece overall, shown here in "deep indigo."

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
At its core, the Ride On blazer is a classic Edwardian riding jacket, re-imagined for cycling in the 21st century. Tailored in the torso and cinched at the waist, it skims the lower abdomen in the front, then lengthens and flares out in the rear to fully cover the derriere. As someone who rides a bike and also likes to sneak yoga pants and leggings into my wardrobe, I like this design for two reasons: (1) It is long enough to cover my lower back when I am leaning over my bike's handlebars, and (2) it allows me to wear stretch pants as street-wear without worrying how my butt looks. Just being honest here.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
The pleats at the rear have held their shape after a week of rather careless wear on my part. Despite its structured appearance, this garment is not something you will have to take an iron to.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
Though visually the fabric resembles denim, it is in fact a stretchy jersey material - a cotton/poly/spandex blend. It allows for a great amount of stretch, and the jacket does not restrict movement even when worn on a bike with drop bars. The fabric is on the heavy side and I would rate it as best for temperatures between 50°F and 70°F. 

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
Aside from the length in the rear and the stretch, the Ride On blazer is designed with a number of cycling-specific elements. The extra-long sleeves feature thumb loops that I find to be quite ergonomic both in their placement and in the shape of the opening.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
If you read customer reviews of this blazer on Lululemon's online store, there are lots of complaints about the sleeves being too long. However, I doubt that those who voice these complaints ride a bike. The sleeves have to be this long, or else the thumb loops will dig into the space between your thumb and forefinger when your arms are stretched out over the handlebars. I'd say the length is appropriate if you want this jacket for cycling, and there are plenty of other jackets with standard length sleeves for those who do not ride a bike.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
Another cycling-specific feature is the reflective detailing on the sleeves and on the back of the collar. The narrow scalloped ribbon used for this is very pretty, but I wonder why they were so stingy with it. For instance, why not incorporate it into the seams on the back of the jacket?

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
In the front of the blazer, there is a lot going on. It's mostly good, just overwhelming at first. In addition to the standard lapel design, the Ride On blazer is fitted with a second, detachable inner lapel with a stand-up collar.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
Zipping up the inner lapel and then closing the outer one around it provides several layers of protection against the wind in the chest and throat area, which is quite useful for cycling. Those who don't cycle might find these features unnecessary and bulky.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
There are lots of buttons and zippers to facilitate opening and closing the jacket to different degrees, as well as two zip pockets. The benefit is that everything is kept tucked in at all times; nothing dangles or flaps around in the wind as you ride. The downside is that it's a little cluttered and complicated. The exposed zippers also give the front of the jacket an edgy "biker" look that competes with the refined equestrian look of the rear of the jacket.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
The two front pockets with zip closure are large enough to house things like a wallet, phone, and other small items, but they are designed in a way that keep these objects tightly enclosed - so that when you're leaned over on the bike the weight doesn't make the pockets hang down. This is an especially useful feature if you're riding a roadbike.

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
All things considered, the Ride On blazer impressed me with how comfortable and convenient it is to actually ride a bike in, while being wearable as everyday clothing off the bike as well. I find it flattering for my body type, though the sizing isn't perfect (loose in the abdomen and torso, but would be narrow in the shoulders had I gone a size smaller). One thing to note is that, being made of soft and stretchy fabric, this blazer undergoes wear at the rate of a jersey garment and not a traditional blazer. The hem and the sleeves on mine are kind of filthy already and need washing. 

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
The biggest negative for me about this garment, is the faux denim print. They have other colour options, but the "black" is also faux denim and the "fossil" looks a little sweatshirty. I gather they were going for the edgy urban look, but the result is too "hip teenager" for me. I also wish the zipper-happy biker aesthetic of the front of the jacket could be toned down and brought in line with the more classic and elegant design of the rear. As it stands, the overall look doesn't really feel like "me" and I am torn about whether to keep it or not, despite how comfortable it is. Most likely I will give it away to a local cycling acquaintance - lots of women here like Lululemon and want to try it [edited to add: I have now given the blazer away; the new owner loves it!].

Lululemon Ride On Blazer
I was never a fan of Lululemon's yoga apparel, but the Ride On collection intrigues me. The ladies at Let's Go Ride a Bike are testing it as well, and their review of the Ride On blazer is posted here. Lululemon's foray into cycling-specific designs goes hand in hand with them having become a co-sponsor of a women's pro cycling team, which I think is great. Though I'd love to see some modifications to the Ride On blazer (adjust the sizing and nix the faux denim, please!), overall I feel that Lululemon is on the right track here, and I appreciate the opportunity to test and review their products. Full set of pictures posted here.

36 comments:

  1. I have to agree with you about the faux denim. Looks tacky to me. Having a background in English riding, I would love to see it in a stretchy velvet or even a herringbone tweed. Good start though!

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    1. I think the fabric they are using is crucial to how this jacket feels to ride in - how much stretch there is, how there is zero constriction, etc. Tweed or velvet would simply not work. But the same fabric could be used with a different print, I am sure, or just a solid black option even. No need for the faux denim.

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    2. There's a black version (slightly heathered with a dark gray), as well as an icy violet/gray. I just got the black one and am really enjoying it so far -- it's the most versatile of the colors, in my opinion, and can be dressed up well.

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    3. The black one still looks like denim judging by the pictures, just black denim. The light violet is nice, but I would stain it immediately.

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    4. I agree -- seems funny that all the colors are heathered/denim-y like that. It makes them all casual, whereas having a black one would have made for at least one dressier option.

      Looks good on you! :)

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    5. True on the stretch. I haven't ever seen a truly stretchy tweed, but I have worked with some very nice stretch velvets. A nice plain black like you and others have mentioned would be perfect. Stretchy, but with a fair amount of weight to give it a nice drape. Express Editor trousers come to mind (since I had to hem a gazillion of them), if you or anyone has handled those... Just something a little classier for for such an elegant cut.

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  2. Really neat review. It's too bad it doesn't come in camel, because it looks as if it were designed by a committee.

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    1. That's a bit harsh, don't you think? Having seen it in person, I think it's neat.

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    2. I object to this maligning of camels!

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  3. I love the features of this jacket. The zipping of the inner and the outer lapel are truly convenient. The only problem I can see is the faux denim print. I'm sure the fabric is great but the print could be different.

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  4. The faux denim is an immediate turn off. The Edwardian style is cute, and good to see Lululemon are getting into cycling apparel as it is a super big part of Vancouver. However, I do not like that this jacket is poly/cotton/spandex which much of their clothing is. The worst combo for cycling wear. Once it is wet, game over, and synthetic traps sweat so you stay wet, and get the magical poly smell. I also try to avoid Lululemon because a) they are painfully overpriced, b)despite feel good marketing et all make most of their stuff in China which is a problem considering their Vancouver ethical branding etc.. Jobs are hard to find in Vancouver and they could have stuck with local manufacturing. The price would have been high, but it is already very high. However China does have skilled textile workers and have to hope Icebreaker, lululemon and others are ethical, pay properly and give people breaks. At Apple, workers have 14 hour days(including breaks) and work 6 days a week. not fun.
    But for me, the worst thing is overexposure. Overtight yoga wear being used as daily wear has seared everyone's brains on the west coast.
    My advice would be to switch the fabric, go for 100% merino and it will be great.

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  5. I was thinking of getting this jacket - or the rain coat. I do see it does come on other colors on the website - LL is all over LA - I'm going to stop in and try some stuff. . . thanks for the review V.

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    1. I have the raincoat as well, and it's very pretty. Will be reviewing it soon along with another one from Nau.

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    2. I am eager to read that review! Which Nau raincoat did you get?

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  6. Just curious, why are you not a fan of their yoga stuff?

    I've read about some changes in lululemon's manufacturing practices and quality lately, and now I hesitate to buy their yoga pants. Any thoughts?

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    1. Only because I prefer simple, cotton yoga pants and they are all about these high-tech fabrics.

      I buy 100% cotton made-in-LA yoga pants from American Apparel. They do wear out but I find them very comfortable.

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  7. This has nothing to do with your review but I would love to see Lulu re-issue their men's Schoeller pants. The current generation is weak. I have 3 pair from 6-7 years ago and they are still perfect.

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    1. Didn't even know they made stuff for men until I browsed their site in search for info for this review. Lululemon is only now starting to catch on on the East Coast, though I am starting to see more of it.

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    2. Lot of guys here who came from the bike-as-sport camp were gobbling the pants up as all-round wear. Now the fabric is used by Outlier, but if I wanted to look like Pete Townshend in The Kids Are Alright I'd have done so a million years ago. Besides the whole look is just...unsavory.
      I don't know of any East Coast trends that have caught on here, come to think of it.

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  8. The jacket is nice, but it looks big on you. What size is it?

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    1. It's their sample size, which is an 8, but is really more like a US Women's 4/6 in my opinion. Be sure to look at the inch measurements on their size chart when ordering.

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  9. Can't wait to see your review of the Nau- did you get the trench, or the riding jacket. There was a "ride along" story on Bike Portland, and all anyone wanted to talk about was the woman's Nau Riding jacket.

    If I were going to get a blazer style jacket (which I probably wouldn't because I have too many already) I would vote for the Nau Riding jacket on style anyway. Fabric probably too vs faux denim.

    Too funny that both you and Trisha reviewed it on the same day.

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    1. I got last year's version of the Succinct Trench, bought on clearance from a discount reseller (Moosejaw, but they're sold out now). I wanted a raincoat that was lightweight enough for spring/summer, and this one definitely is. So far it's exceeded my expectations; will post pictures soon.

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  10. this thing looks rather good on you.
    two thumbs up!

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  11. I have exactly one item from Lululemon: a bra! I bought a Ta-Ta Tamer over a year ago, and reviewed it here: http://aprillikesbikes.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/shameless-consumerism/

    It *still* fits on the loosest set of hooks, because putting it through the dryer every few years seems to tighten up the elastic.

    I only mention this, because I impressed by the fit and quality of the item, and how sturdy it is.

    On the other hand....a few days ago, I went into the store to try on their new cycling-specific pants. None them have any reinforcement of the material in the butt/crotch area, and that's where all of my pants wear out first, from rubbing on the saddle. Not only that, but the fabric there is stretchy knit stuff, and it can't be super abrasion-resistant. I'd hate to pay so much money for bike-specific pants and have them wear out fast.

    The pants were awesome otherwise though: really comfy, flattering fit, lots of little details that showed they put some thought into what cyclists need. Which is the un-reinforced material is so puzzling!

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    1. I received samples of the pants and shorts for review, but don't know how to go about it yet. They fit me very poorly - loose at the waist and butt (thats a new one!) and tight around the thighs. That, and the mess of seams right at the crotch make them ill suited for cycling in my opinion. I need to brace myself to model in them.

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  12. What bike are you riding in the photographs?

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    1. It's a customised Bella Ciao Corvo Citta Donna. See here and here.

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  13. Lululemon's running apparel is better suited to cycling than their current commuting line! You should check it out, it's functional, well designed, and incredibly flattering

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  14. I was only aware of the Specialized-Lululemon team, I wasn't actually aware of what kind of company Lululemon was, know I know. The jacket looks like a really good choice for a person who doesn't want the full sports gear look, but still want clothes they can throw into the washer when dirty. It is also nice that you can zipp it up but still have the blazer look. I am going to tell my sister about it if she starts biking to work,

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  15. I own a lululemon jacket, which I bought after getting sucked into one of their stores by my wife. I'm kind of surprised at the comments about the lengths of the sleeves on the jacket, since one of the things that sold me on the jacket was that they were willing to tailor the sleeve length to fit. Maybe you don't get that service if you buy online? It's not a cycling-specific jacket but I do find it comfortable for riding on moderately cold days.

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    1. I don't think the sleeves on this particular jacket can be tailored, because of the thumb loops. But like I said, the length is a good thing and an intentional feature, as the jacket is intended for cycling.

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  16. Lots of bells and whistles. looks good for free. Not sure if lululemon got the review they expected. Maybe lululemon went out on a limb for this testimonial.

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    1. Pretty sure they expected an honest review. If you look at the customer reviews on their website, they certainly publish both positive and negative feedback. As an aside, I do not keep reviewed items for free; I either give them away or pay for them.

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  17. Not sure how well it can be going if it's already on sale at $119 http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/women-we-made-too-much/Ride-On-Blazer-MD?cc=4297&skuId=3439604&catId=women-we-made-too-much

    And LuluLemon is known for doing very very few discounts.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577295882632723066.html

    That said, it's a cute jacket, Just wouldn't be willing to shell out the dough for it.

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