Fabletics0Kate Hudson kept showing up in my Facebook newsfeed. She’s probably showing up in yours too, under the guise of a news story that Lululemon is biting their Full-On-Luon nails over Kate’s new line of athletic apparel. ¬†I have no beef with Kate Hudson, or Lululemon, or yoga pants for that matter, so I kept glazing over the screaming headline proclaiming that the maker of much (ok, most) of my casual wardrobe was under assault from some young Hollywood upstart.

Then after seeing the same damn post for the gazillionth time, I finally clicked on it. ¬†I confess…I don’t remember reading¬†the copy. ¬†I can’t remember much about the story or the issue at hand – generally I can’t remember much about anything these days – but I do remember thinking that Miss Hudson had a fine set of abs for someone who had birthed two children and gained a significant amount of publicized weight during each pregnancy.

And in what can only be a stroke of marketing genius, the next thing you know I’m scrolling through the Fabletics website choosing brightly colored leggings and bras to add to my venerable collection. Because I can’t resist a bright and shiny offer – nor a free pair of high end cropped leggings – pretty soon¬†I’m a VIP member entitled to awesome and amazing workout duds at a fraction of the marked up Lululemon price.

I selected 3 pairs of leggings, a tank top, and a sports bra.  My final price was under $125, due to my New Member, First Order, VIP status, (I think it would have ball-parked around $200+ if it was a one time thing with no incentives) and the package arrived about 3 days later.  So far so good.

I’ll give them this – the cut and the quality of the leggings is very similar to my trusty Lulus. ¬†I like the way they sit on my hips, the material is snug but not restrictive, the sizing is true to size, and the colors and patterns are actually better and more abundant than what you find in a Lululemon store.

The bra was a bit loose for my taste. It was comfortable and non-binding, also true to size, but there wasn’t enough oomph to the material to hold the girls in place during a bouncy workout, and as a day bra it didn’t provide enough shape or lift to make me feel like gravity wasn’t my nemesis. The tank top was not memorable. ¬†I did test drive it during a bike ride this past weekend, but it was layered under so many other things that I feel like I need to give it another solo go just to warrant a legitimate review.

All in, I’m happy with my purchase. ¬†But here’s my issue with companies like Fabletics: I don’t want to have to be a member to buy your stuff. ¬†I don’t like having to have a certain¬†status to get the best deal. ¬†I don’t like being force fed a new outfit every month just because it’s a new month and there is a new array of “personally selected” merchandise waiting for me, and I especially think your stupid quizzes are an affront to algorithms everywhere.

My other gripe with Fabletics is the issue of rapidly disappearing merchandise. Is it because the items are so popular that they sell out in hours? ¬†Likely not. The reality is¬†they carry low stock volume and then capitalize on the “buy me now” crowd sourcing mentality, creating a false demand curve for items that one would normally pass by if seen in a brick and mortar store. ¬†I hate¬†the notion of being pressured to buy something simply because it may not be there tomorrow or the next day if I change my mind. It reminds me of the Blizzard of ’78 and the visceral need that New Englanders feel to grocery shop as if the seven horsemen of the Apocalypse were heading down 128 every time more than 3″ of snow is predicted.

So why do I buy? ¬†Sadly, I am the mark that these companies target: I get lulled in because I’m not paying attention, the effort to buy is minimal – just a mouse away. ¬†Almost unconsciously I sign up for a monthly debit, and then forget to opt out of the required monthly purchase because I’m too busy living my life, or more truthfully because the opt out button is buried so deeply in the web site in such a tiny font that the effort to execute¬†seems more of a pain that just agreeing to another $19.99 or $29.99 or $39.99…or whatever the subliminal “it’s no big deal” price is.

I had a Come to Jesus meeting with my accountant this week. ¬†Running late, I showed up, post yoga, clad in my new Fabletics Lima Crop, Taos Print leggings. Going through expenses he noted that the monthly dollar amount of “membership shopping sites” to which I belonged was leaving a gaping hole in my cash flow, and suggested that I hop off the retail bandwagon and stop accruing meaningless points. ¬†I tried to explain that my membership fees were actually a tax write off because of my profession as a pseudo fashion blogger. I was met with a blank stare.

Would I recommend Fabletics for your workout wardrobe? ¬†Sure. ¬†The quality is good, the prices are reasonable and the products are varied enough to keep it interesting. ¬†Are they going to put Lululemon out of business? ¬†Unlikely – unless of course the CEO pulls another PR disaster – but if you do decide to buy, be sure to read the fine print. ¬†Otherwise you may find yourself so deep in the membership charges that you won’t be able to afford your gym membership.


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