Article by Katie Smith, Vancouver mom, shopping star and lover of all things Lululemon.
West 4th and Arbutus is home to some of Kitsilano’s most well-known retailers. Wherever you look on that corner you’ll see a bit of local history, and probably a few tourists too. One of the biggest destinations on this corner is Lululemon Athletica, the flagship Lululemon store. It seems, at least in Vancouver, everyone either owns a piece of Lululemon or has a story about their interaction with the brand. I like that conversation is always welcome with this company.
I work for Lululemon and love what we create for adults, but now that I have a daughter of my own I wanted to know more about the girls’ line and how it measures up. Ivivva (ih-vee-vah) Athletica is dance-inspired athletic apparel for girls. It was created based on extensive feedback from Lululemon guests who wanted dancewear for a younger age group made using the signature fabrics, technical design features and exciting colours Lululemon is known for. In Kitsilano, Ivivva is only two doors up from the Luluelmon store, making it an easy destination if you’ve already paid for parking.
When you walk into Ivivva an immediate smile comes to your face. It is a sensory overload in the most epic girl way. The store is spacious and colourful. There is enough room to browse without commitment; like meeting a new friend for the first time, learning who she is, noticing how she dresses and talks but liking her enough to have an urge to know more and ask questions.
Walking into the store with my two kids I was apprehensive as to how much I would actually be able to look around, because my four-year-old boy was less than thrilled to be shopping. So imagine my delight as he gravitated to the “brother’s” corner, which was thoughtfully set up with a Wii, a place to sit, and other toys. He was actually upset when it was time to go.
As my daughter and I wandered the floor of the store looking at the pants and tanks (like a mini-sized version of Lululemon) I dreamed about dressing us alike and buying matching scarves to boot. But I realized that would be the antithesis of what this store is about. You can feel the confidence and message of living a healthy active life literally oozing from the walls. The change rooms are big, enough room to fit two, but with a cool sliding peek hole for a girl to stick her head out of and ask for a different size. We watched girls strut their new athletic stuff down the runway, testing out the dance gear with an impromptu pirouette.
Ivivva’s price point is higher than most girls’ retailers. At first glance it was hard to consider. I picked up the pieces and looked them over for longevity and I was put at ease when the manager began to tell me about the wearability and real life cycle put on each piece. Like its big sister, Ivivva offers complimentary hemming for sleeve lengths and pant legs. In fact they offer a special “child hem” that allows you to actually drop the hem twice, if needed, making the life span of their routine pant (think Lululemon’s groove pant, in girl size) a lot longer than I expected.
These girl-sized products are made with the same Lululemon fabrics and features we all know and love. I am talking about hair ties for zippers pulls, thumbholes, secret pockets, totally reversible pieces and cuffins (extra fabric you pull over your hand when your cold), oh, and what girl wouldn’t love a ponytail hood? I was thinking about my daughter becoming a savvy consumer, buying quality over quantity, and learning to want more from her clothes than just brand power. I want her to be looking for fit and function as well. It may be far-reaching to assume she would care about all that at this age, but I feel like I have a hand in teaching her and it starts with exposing her to stores I can get behind.
Move This, Shake That
As we were leaving the store I saw a picture of a girl up at the cash register. She was called a “mover and shaker” and there was a fact sheet to read while you waited to be rung through, talking about the sports she played, the time she spent in the dance studio and how she loved her life, set goals and valued her friends. I asked if she was real or just an ideal concept. I learned that this young lady all the movers and shaker are real girls who shop at Ivivva. It is an opportunity for girls who best represent Ivivva’s values and style in their local communities. Again, I immediately thought about my daughter and what it would be like for her to have this kind of community of support that wasn’t just about clothes and looks, but also about living a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on being yourself.
After leaving the store with a scarf, a tank top and bag for my daugther, I took a look online to learn just a little bit more. I found a YouTube video, Never seen nothing like this before, and walked away with a true sense of where this retailer is headed. This was the store I wish existed when I was a kid, a place that would have ‘got me’. As my girl grows, and by grows I mean grows out of her clothes (sigh), I will be incorporating a little more Ivivva into her closet. I like the colour, I like the fit and I like knowing it’s going to last.
My kids and I make a regular appearance now at Ivivva whenever we’re in the neighbourhood, even if it’s just to say hello. I like what these people have going on. They also know our names, and I really like that. With five locations nationally, Ivivva is just finding its spot in the market. In addition to their Kits location, you can shop locally in West Vancouver at Park Royal. Or if you’d rather not leave your house, visit them online.
Katie Smith is a mom of two and lover of all things Vancouver. She’s pursuing her goal of running her first half marathon this summer, but while training she makes it her goal to run at least one block like Pheobe did in Friends – arms flailing and feet dancing, just to make sure life stays fun! You can follow the fun at www.worldbysmith.com or via twitter at @worldbysmith.